CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open lower after soft data; BlackBerry set to rise
Feb 20 (Reuters) - Canadian stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday following data showing a slide in China's factory activity and in France's service sector.
But shares of BlackBerry Ltd were set to jump after Facebook Inc's stunning $19 billion bid for fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp, with investors cheered by the lofty valuation for the messaging platform.
The deal put a rough valuation metric around the smartphone maker's own BlackBerry Messaging service.
* China's vast factory sector contracted again this month and the expected acceleration in euro zone business activity failed to materialise, highlighting the fragile state of the global economy.
* Facebook Inc will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in a landmark deal that places the world's largest social network closer to the heart of mobile communications and may bring younger users into the fold.
* Loblaw Cos Ltd, Canada's largest grocer, reported a 9 percent drop in quarterly net profit due to a rise in interest expenses, and the company warned that the industry will remain "extremely competitive" in the first half of 2014.
* Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported a lower profit for the holiday quarter as comparable sales in the United States declined again. Continued...