March 29, 2012 / 12:32 PM / 6 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open lower after U.S. data stirs concern

March 29 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open lower on Thursday, tracking global markets, after a raft of disappointing U.S. economic data fueled fears of a slowdown by the world’s biggest economy.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures pointed to a lower open.

* U.S. stock index futures edged lower as investors awaited weekly jobless claims data for signs the U.S. economy will continue to support equities as they come off their best first quarter in 14 years.

* European stocks fell to three-week lows, with benchmark indexes breaking below key support levels as recent lower-than-expected U.S. economic figures added to worries about global growth, while Total extended its sell-off.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, fell 0.24 percent in early trade.

* Oil prices held near $124 a barrel on concerns about the loss of Iranian oil despite the prospect of a release of strategic oil reserves in the West and renewed promises of additional supply from Saudi Arabia.

* Gold prices slipped below $1,660 an ounce in Europe, extending their retreat from two-week highs into a third session, as the dollar recovered from a near one-month low and crude oil prices turned lower.

* Copper was steady, after a 2 percent fall the previous session, and was on track for a 10 percent increase this quarter, although doubts over demand in China and over the pace of economic recovery in the U.S. made investors cautious.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Sprott Inc. : The asset manager specializing in resources said its quarterly profit plunged 96 percent mainly due to weak precious metals prices that dragged down investments.

* Encana Corp. : The company will take a final decision on the Kitimat LNG joint venture before the end of 2012, its CEO said, with the project’s partners willing to offer up to 20 percent of the equity to potential gas buyers.

* Ithaca Energy Inc. : The oil and gas producer posted a slight fall in profit, and said it continued to be in discussions with parties interested in acquiring it.

* Brigus Gold Corp. : The company posted a fourth quarter profit as higher average gold price offset lower sales volume.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.

* AGF Management : CIBC cuts price target to C$17 from C$18; Canaccord Genuity raises price target to C$15.50 from C$15

* Artis REIT : Canaccord Genuity raises price target to C$17 from C$15.75

* Canadian Pacific Railway : Canaccord Genuity cuts price target to C$89 from C$90

* CanWel Building Materials : Canaccord Genuity raises target to C$2.60 from C$2.25

* Centerra Gold : CIBC cuts target to C$26 from C$32, rating sector outperformer

* Fortuna Silver Mines : CIBC cuts to sector performer from sector outperformer

* IBI Group : CIBC raises target to C$17 from C$16.50, rating sector outperformer

* Raging River Exploration : CIBC raises price target to C$3 from C$2.60

* Richmont Mines : CIBC cuts to sector performer from sector outperformer

* Vermilion Energy : RBC raises target to C$52 from C$47, rating sector perform

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