Jan 8 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open lower on Tuesday, tracking Wall Street, as investors remained cautious with hours to go before the start of the U.S. corporate earnings season, which could influence the market’s near-term direction.
Investors could also focus on a European Central Bank’s policy meeting and economic data from China due later in the week.
* Business morale in the euro zone improved again in December, but unemployment hit a new record and households held back from spending before Christmas, suggesting the bloc’s emergence from recession will be slow.
* China’s annual economic growth may have quickened to 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter a Reuters poll showed, snapping seven straight quarters of weaker expansion, but the recovery is likely to be tepid and the economy may need continued policy support.
* Barrick Gold Corp has ended talks to sell a stake in majority-owned African Barrick Gold to a Chinese buyer, dashing hopes of a potential $3 billion deal for the underperforming unit.
* Samsung Electronics, the world leader in mobiles and memory chips, said it likely earned a quarterly profit of $8.3 billion, as it sold close to 500 handsets a minute and as demand picked up for the flat screens it makes for mobile devices, including those for rival Apple Inc products.
* Canada stock futures traded down 0.01 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were down around 0.06 percent
* European shares, were up
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 296.0662; rose 0.13 percent
* Gold futures : $1,647.7; rose 0.13 percent
* US crude : $93.57; rose 0.41 percent
* Brent crude : $112.25; rose 0.76 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $8,092; rose 0.26 percent
* Barrick Gold Corp. : The miner said it was no longer in talks to sell a stake in its majority-owned, London-listed gold producer African Barrick Gold to a Chinese buyer, calling time on months of talks. Separately, Pakistan’s top court has ruled against the company and Chile’s Antofagasta Plc in a long-running dispute with a provincial government over their right to develop the $3.3 billion Reko Diq copper-gold deposit.
* Goldcorp Inc. : The gold miner said it expects gold production to rise by about 10 percent to between 2.55 million and 2.80 million ounces in 2013. The company also raised its annual dividend by 11 percent to 60 Canadian cents per share.
* Nautilus Minerals Inc. : The company, which hopes to develop the world’s first underwater copper-gold mine off Papua New Guinea, said it has had no contact with a little-known investor who announced a hostile C$238 million takeover bid for it but would consider a formal offer. Michael Bailey plans to offer 97 Canadian cents per share for Nautilus, according to a statement released by boutique financial advisory firm Gannibal Securities on Monday.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Manulife Financial Corp : Barclays raises target price to C$14 from C$13 due to significant upside potential and lower volatility in its reported earnings. It sees Manulife returning to profitability after reporting two successive quarters of losses.
* Westjet Airlines Ltd : National Bank Financial raises target to C$26 from C$25 on valuation, liquidity position, solid earnings growth in 2013 and dividend increases.
* Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp : RBC cuts target price to C$35 from C$38 on production outlook and crude oil prices.
* No major Canadian economic data scheduled for release
* No major U.S. events and data scheduled for release