Feb 21 - Canada’s main stock index looked set to open higher on Friday after a reading on U.S. manufacturing, which hit its highest in nearly four years, underpinned hopes for sustained economic strengthening. TOP STORIES
* Sweeping reforms are urgently needed to boost productivity and to lower barriers to trade if the world is to avoid a new era of slow growth and stubbornly high unemployment, the OECD warned.
* Fertilizer company Agrium Inc reported a 72 percent decline in quarterly profit on Thursday as crop nutrient prices fell and nitrogen sales volumes weakened.
* Dish Network Corp, the second-largest U.S. satellite TV company after DirecTV, reported a 38 percent rise in profit for the fourth quarter as it added a net 8,000 pay-TV subscribers.
* Base metal miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd reported lower fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday due to weaker metals prices despite an increase in production and lower production costs.
* Royal Bank of Scotland is to shrink its investment banking and international operations in a revamp in which the group could shed up to a quarter of its 120,000 workforce, sources familiar with the matter said.
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.41 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.18 to 0.25 percent
* European shares, were up
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 302.4885; rose 0.19 percent
* Gold futures : $1,322.7; rose 0.43 percent
* US crude : $102.48; fell 0.26 percent
* Brent crude : $110; fell 0.27 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $7,150; fell 0.07 percent
* Element Financial Corp : The equipment financing company said on Thursday it narrowed its fourth-quarter loss as higher finance receivables more than made up for a jump in transaction costs.
* TransCanada Corp : A Nebraska judge’s ruling on the company’s Keystone XL pipeline could let President Barack Obama delay his final decision on the project until after mid-term elections and avoid political damage, analysts say.
* Veresen Inc : The company said on Thursday that Canada’s National Energy Board had approved its request for a license to export natural gas for a U.S. liquefied natural gas project.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Alamos Gold Inc : CIBC cuts target price to C$12.50 from C$15 considering decreasing gold production and an injunction issued in Turkey
* Canadian Utilities : Barclays raises target to C$41 from C$39, based on the company’s largely-in-line results and sees rate base growth at the utilities
* Osisko Mining Corp : CIBC cuts to sector performer from sector outperformer based on the overhang from a hostile bid from Goldcorp and the upcoming trial in March
* TransAlta Corp : CIBC cuts to sector underperformer from sector performer and cuts target price to C$12 from C$15.50 on the company’s disappointing 2013 results, unexpected dividend cut and limited visibility into future growth
* TransCanada Corp : CIBC cuts target price to C$56 from C$58 citing the company’s below-consensus fourth-quarter results owing to the Nebraska court ruling of the Keystone XL pipeline
* Major Canadian economic data includes gross domestic product data
* Major U.S. events and data include existing home sales