March 23 (Reuters) - Toronto’s resource-heavy main stock index looked set to open slightly lower on Friday, as recent data on the U.S. labor market did little to counter weak manufacturing reports from the euro zone and China.
* Canadian equity futures pointed to a lower open.
* U.S. stock index futures were little changed after equities suffered their worst percentage drop in two weeks, with the S&P 500 on track for its first decline in the past six weeks.
* Higher gasoline and food prices drove up Canada’s annual inflation rate to 2.6 percent in February from 2.5 percent, slightly below expectations but likely becoming more of a concern for the central bank when setting interest rates.
* The Canadian dollar extended losses against the U.S. currency after data showed Canada’s annual inflation rate edged up in February to 2.6 percent from a rate of 2.5 percent in January.
* European equities retreated further early after four straight sessions of falls, stalked by concerns over the global growth outlook.
* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, rose 0.22 percent in early trade.
* Oil rebounded to around $124 a barrel after Thursday’s sell off as supply concerns underpinned prices despite reassurances from the International Energy Agency
* Gold rose, led by a rebound in the euro, but was still set for a fourth consecutive weekly loss, due to patchy consumer demand and evidence of the waning investor appetite for the metal as confidence in the economic outlook strengthens.
* Copper rebounded from a two-week low hit the previous session, helped by a weaker dollar and falling inventories, but was still on track for a weekly loss as worries over demand growth in top consumer China and elsewhere lingered.
* Pengrowth Energy Corp. : The oil and gas producer will buy NAL Energy Corp in a deal valued at about C$1.9 billion, including debt, to add light oil assets.
* Silver Wheaton : The silver stream company reported a 20 percent rise in profit, helped by increased selling prices of silver and gold.
* Air Canada : : The airline said on Thursday that its search to replace maintenance provider Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. will favor companies with operations in Canada.
Separately, some of the company’s ground staff walked off the job in a wildcat protest on Thursday night at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, a company spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that no flights were canceled.
* Research In Motion : The BlackBerry maker wants to hire a software developer with deep experience building applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, according to a job posting on its LinkedIn page.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Delphi Energy Corp. : Canaccord Genuity cuts to speculative buy from buy
* Innergex Renewable :National Bank Financial cuts to sector perform from outperform
* Miranda Technologies : National Bank Financial starts with outperform; Canaccord Genuity raises target to C$14.50 from C$12.50
* New Flyer : CIBC cuts price target to C$8.50 from C$9; Canaccord Genuity cuts to hold from buy; target to C$6.25 from C$8.75
* Pinecrest Energy : Canaccord Genuity raises target price to C$6 from C$5.85
* Taseko Mines : Canaccord Genuity cuts target price to C$4.10 from C$4.30