April 18 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index looked set to open higher on Thursday after sinking to a near five-month low the previous session, with some investors turning more optimistic ahead of a slew of U.S. corporate earnings.
* Morgan Stanley reported a first-quarter profit of $958 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $119 million, driven by strong growth in its institutional securities business.
* A big fall in sales of Nokia’s basic phones overshadowed a stronger performance from its Lumia smartphones in the first quarter, and it said it expected operating margins to deteriorate, sending its shares tumbling.
* UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer said that its first-quarter profit had fallen, in part because of lower U.S. government payments for its private Medicare services and prescription plans for older Americans.
* PepsiCo Inc reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings as price increases helped margins and the company stood by its full-year forecast.
* British insurer Aviva PLC will cut as many as 2,000 jobs worldwide in the latest cost-cutting drive aimed at revitalizing its flagging fortunes, a source close to the company told Reuters.
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.48 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.3 percent and 0.38 percent
* European shares, were up
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 282.5502; rose 0.42 percent
* Gold futures : $1,395.7; rose 0.98 percent
* US crude : $87.86; rose 1.36 percent
* Brent crude : $98.9; rose 1.24 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $6,985; fell 1.34 percent
* African Barrick Gold : The miner, the subject of a failed takeover attempt in January, said that this week’s plunge in the price of gold has raised the stakes for its internal operational review.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Copper Mountain Mining : CIBC cuts price target to C$5 from C$5.20 on valuation to reflect latest gold price assumptions for 2013 and 2014.
* Entree Gold : CIBC cuts price target to C$1.40 from C$1.90 on lowered earnings estimates to incorporate a recent sell-off.
* IGM Financial : CIBC raises price target to C$47 from C$43.50 on valuation citing above-consensus first-quarter earnings estimates.
* Novus Energy : NBF cuts price target to C$1.15 from C$1.45 citing higher year end reserves volumes.
* No major Canadian economic data scheduled for release
* Major U.S. events and data includes initial claims, lead indicator and Philadelphia Fed business activity survey