Jan 9 (Reuters) - Following upbeat U.S. private-sector jobs data in the previous session, Canada’s main stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday as investors looked ahead to Friday’s closely watched nonfarm payrolls report. TOP STORIES
* China’s annual consumer inflation slowed more sharply than expected to a seven-month low of 2.5 percent in December, easing market fears of monetary policy tightening although the central bank is tapping the brakes on bank liquidity.
* The European Central Bank left its main interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.25 percent, holding course despite persistent price weakness in the euro zone that has fed concerns about deflation risk.
* The Bank of England left monetary policy unchanged, sticking to its plan to keep interest rates at a record low until the country’s surprisingly fast economic recovery broadens out.
* Jean Coutu Group Inc reported an 11 percent rise in third-quarter profit, helped by a fall in expenses and a lower tax bill.
* Nordion Inc reported a quarterly profit rebounding from a year-earlier loss that was partly due to a litigation charge.MARKET SNAPSHOT
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.27 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.25 percent to 0.32 percent
* European shares, were a touch higher COMMODITY PRICE MOVES
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 275.7208; rose 0.1 percent
* Gold futures : $1,226.2; rose 0.07 percent
* US crude : $92.79; rose 0.5 percent
* Brent crude : $107.98; rose 0.77 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $7,258.75; fell 1.17 percent CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH
* Agrium Inc : The fertilizer company said on Wednesday it will restructure its three divisions into two business units, wholesale and retail, in the first quarter of 2014 as it moves to become more efficient.
* Canadian Natural Resources Ltd : The oil producer has dropped plans to dispose of its Montney shale-gas property after failing to attract a suitable offer.
* Goldcorp : The gold miner said late on Wednesday that its annual gold production could rise up to 18 percent even as it expects to rein in costs over the next two years expecting to produce between 3.0 and 3.15 million ounces of gold in 2014, an increase of 13 to 18 percent.
* Rogers Communications Inc : The company’s Sportsnet channel has signed an eight-year extension to its broadcast deal with Major League Baseball, it said on Wednesday.
* Royal Bank of Canada : The bank led investment banks in advising on equity issues and mergers and acquisitions in Canada in 2013, but share issues overall rose only slightly in the year and M&A activity fell hard.
* Saputo Inc : The company has raised its stake in takeover target Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Holdings Co to 20.1 percent, it said, making it the biggest shareholder just ahead of its offer deadline on Friday. ANALYSTS’ RECOMMENDATIONS
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Keyera Corp : CIBC raises target price to C$66 from C$65.50, says although the company is fairly valued in the near term, in the second half of 2014 analysts anticipate growth announcements regarding energy infrastructure to support the Duvernay to drive further price appreciation ON THE CALENDAR
* Major Canadian economic data includes housing starts and building permits
* Major U.S. events and data includes initial and continuing claims