December 30, 2010 / 1:30 PM / in 7 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX set to open little changed; commodities steady

Dec 30 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open little changed on Thursday, supported by steady commodity prices, with investors likely to take cues from U.S. economic data.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a flat open.

* U.S. stock index futures were little changed as investors’ awaited economic data for insight on the strength of the economic recovery heading into 2011. [.N]

* European equities hit their lowest level in more than a week as a drop in crude oil prices dragged down energy shares, while a fall in China Purchasing Mangers’ Index hurt market sentiment. [.EU]

* Markets in Asia cemented gains largely but with an exception to Nikkei which ended down, pressured by profit-taking as the yen advanced to a fresh seven-week high against the dollar.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, fell 0.06 percent in early trade.

* Oil prices slipped under $91 in thin trading volumes before the release of the latest weekly U.S. oil inventory data, which is expected to show a drawdown in crude stocks for the fourth consecutive week. [O/R]

* Weakness in the U.S. dollar and a year-end flurry of investment in commodities pushed gold to its highest in three weeks, while palladium hit fresh nine-year highs after having almost doubled in price this year. [GOL/]

* Copper hit a record high as London prices tracked Shanghai, while a weaker dollar and widening market deficit forecast for next year burnished the metal’s allure for investors. [MET/L]

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Baffinland Iron Mines BIM.TO: ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, late on Wednesday said it extended the deadline on its takeover bid for the company, but did not alter the terms of its offer. [ID:nN29294215]

* Research In Motion RIM.TO: The BlackBerry-maker said on Thursday the network data analysis system was a tool to gain lawful access only to its consumer services including BlackBerry Messenger, and does not enable access to highly secure corporate emails on its devices. [ID:nSGE6BT04F]

* Luna Gold Corp LGC.V: Armed robbers stolen an estimated $2.1 million in gold from Aurizona mine in Brazil, the mining company said on Wednesday. No employees were hurt in the robbery, and the company said it had insurance to pay for the loss. [ID:nN29290865]

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]

* Dollarama Inc. (DOL.TO) price target raised to C$32 from C$30; rating market perform at Raymond James

* Mullen Group (MTL.TO) price target raised to C$17 from C$15.75; rating market perform at Raymond James

* Neo Material Technologies NEM.TO price target raised to C$10 from C$8.50; rating buy at Mackie Research

$1= $1.00 Canadian Reporting by Kishan Nair and Bangalore Newsroom; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson

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