April 2, 2012 / 12:32 PM / in 6 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX to open flat on euro zone concerns

April 2 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to edge higher at Monday’s open, as signs of economic contraction in Europe offset strong manufacturing data out of China.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures pointed to a higher open.

* U.S. stock index futures were little changed after weak manufacturing data out of Europe raised fears about a recession in the region.

* European shares were flat, giving up early gains due to renewed nervousness about the euro zone after media reports said Germany’s Bundesbank had stopped accepting the bonds of Portugal and other peripheral countries as collateral.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, fell 0.27 percent in early trade.

* Oil slipped below $123 a barrel, following a 14 percent rise in the first quarter, as economic contraction in Europe outweighed a brighter outlook in China and global supply concerns.

* Gold prices eased a touch in Europe as a softer tone to other assets such as stocks and crude oil indicated weaker appetite for fresh investment, but a retreat in the dollar prevented a sharper fall.

* Copper rose buoyed by upbeat Chinese manufacturing data that helped calm worries over demand prospects in the world’s top copper consumer, though concerns lingered about the overall pace of growth in China.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Encana Corp. : The natural gas producer said it will speed up commercialization of its oil and liquids-rich assets through partnerships, but the company did not say how much the deals were valued at.

* DirectCash Payments Inc . : The ATM services provider said it has agreed to buy Australian peer Customers Ltd for about A$173 million in cash to expand its business globally.

* Ivanhoe Resources : Chinese aluminium giant Chalco stepped up its diversification, agreeing to pay $926 million for a controlling stake in Mongolian coal miner SouthGobi Resources in a deal with mining billionaire Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Resources.

* Encana Corp. : The natural gas producer said it will speed up commercialization of its oil and liquids-rich assets through partnerships, but the company did not say how much the deals were valued at.

* IC Potash Group : The Norwegian fertiliser maker Yara is to pay C$40 million for new shares in the company, paying a near 50 percent premium for a 19.9 percent stake to secure access to potash supplies.

* Sino-Forest Corp. : Singapore-based Richard Chandler Corp, the largest shareholder in the Chinese forestry company said that it has proposed a restructuring plan for the embattled company.

Separately, a Canadian court on Friday granted Sino-Forest protection from its creditors, and the embattled Chinese forestry company started looking for a buyer under the terms of an agreement with some of its noteholders.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Ag Growth International : NBF cuts to underperform from sector perform; NBF raises price target to C$37.50 from C$36

* Barrick Gold : RBC removes from global mining best ideas portfolio

* Bonavista Energy Corp. : Canaccord Genuity cuts price target to C$26 from C$27.50

* C&C Energia Ltd. : CIBC cuts price target to C$11.75 from C$13; Canaccord genuity cuts target price to C$13.25 from C$13.75

* Canadian Natural Resources : Barclays raises to overweight from equal weight

* Cenovus Energy Inc. : Barclays cuts to equal weight from overweight; Barclays raises price target to C$43 from C$42

* Lake Shore Gold : NBF cuts price target to C$3.20 from C$3.60, rating outperform

* Logan International : NBF cuts to sector perform from outperform; NBF cuts price target to C$5 from C$7.75

* Meg Energy : Barclays raises to overweight from equal weight; Barclays raises price target to C$51 from C$50

* Pure Technologies Ltd. : CIBC raises price target to C$5.50 from C$5

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