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Dec 16 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index pointed to a slightly higher open on Thursday as European Union leaders meet to tackle a year-long debt crisis that consumed Greece and Ireland and threatens to spread to Portugal and Spain.
* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a higher open.
* U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher as investors awaited data on jobs and housing and corporate earnings from bellwether FedEx for signs of improvement in the economy. [.N]
* European stocks reversed early losses and turned flat around midday as shares in Southern Europe dipped following Spain's bond auction. [.EU]
* Markets in Asia were largely flat.
* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, fell 0.06 percent in early trade.
* Oil fell to around $88 a barrel as mounting concerns over the debt-crisis in the eurozone overshadowed a large drop in crude oil stocks in the United States last week. [O/R]
* Gold firmed in Europe as the euro recovered some lost ground against the dollar ahead of an EU summit later in the day, at which leaders are trying to agree on further action to tackle the region's debt crisis. [GOL/]
* Copper fell about 1 percent as rising inventories weighed, with risk sentiment hit by persistent debt concerns ahead of a European Union summit called to find solutions to the region's debt crisis. [MET/L]
* George Weston Ltd. (WN.TO): The food processor and distributor said on Wednesday it will pay a special one-time dividend of C$1 billion. The company said it will pay dividend of about C$7.75 per share to shareholders of record Jan. 18. [ID:nSGE6BE0CU]
* Baffinland Iron Mines BIM.TO: Nunavut, backed by private equity, has raised its hostile bid for the company by 69 percent, topping an offer from the world's No. 1 steelmaker ArcelorMittal as it goes after an iron ore deposit big enough to supply all of Europe. [ID:nN16206372]
* Silvercorp Metals Inc. (SVM.TO): The company said it got a mining permit with a 30-year term for its silver-lead-zinc project in China's Guangdong province. [ID:nSGE6BF07G]
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]
* Asia Bio Chem Group ABC.TO price target raised to C$2 from C$1.75; rating outperform at Raymond James
* Gran Tierra Energy (GTE.TO) rating started with sector performer at CIBC
* Petrominerales PMG.TO rating started with sector outperformer at CIBC
* Stornoway Diamond (SWY.TO) price target raised to C$1 from C$0.90; rating outperform at Raymond James
($1= $1.00 Canadian)
Reporting by Kishan Nair and Bangalore Newsroom