February 17, 2012 / 1:43 PM / in 6 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX set to open higher on Greece hopes

Feb 17 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open higher on Friday on hopes Greece will seal a long-awaited bailout deal next week and avoid a messy debt default.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures pointed to a higher open.

* Canada’s annual inflation rate edged up in January but the increase is unlikely to put pressure on the Bank of Canada, which looks set to keep interest rates on hold for much of 2012.

* The Canadian dollar firmed to a session high against the U.S. dollar after the inflation data.

* U.S. stock index futures were little changed as investors were set to take a breather from a rally that pushed the S&P 500 to a nine-month high in the previous session.

* European shares rose to hit a six and a half month high as investors bet that Greece would sign a deal to secure a second bailout by Monday and avoid a messy default, which could have rippling effect in the financial markets.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, rose 0.32 percent in early trade.

* Oil steadied near $120, supported by hopes for a long-awaited Greek bailout deal and tension between OPEC producer Iran and the West.

* Gold edged up, set for its first weekly gain in three weeks, as growing confidence in a prompt deal between European leaders and Greece over its second bailout eroded investor appetite for low-yielding lower risk currencies.

* Copper rose on as hopes that Greece is now close to securing a second bailout boosted market sentiment but the metal was still on track for its second weekly loss running, reflecting scarce demand from top consumer China.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Enbridge Inc. : The main transporter of Canadian oil to the United States reported a 3 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on higher shipped volumes.

* Encana Corp. The natural gas producer’s fourth-quarter loss narrowed and the company said capital spending will be 37 percent lower this year.

Separately, Encana said Mitsubishi Corp will invest C$2.9 billion for a 40 percent stake in a partnership for developing the Cutbank Ridge gas assets in British Columbia.

* Anvil Mining : China’s Minmetals Resources sealed a C$1.3 billion bid for the Africa-focused copper miner, and said it was on the lookout for copper, zinc and nickel acquisitions for up to $7 billion.

* Crescent Point Energy Corp. : The independent oil producer said on Thursday it will pay C$427 million to buy properties from PetroBakken Energy Ltd so it can boost production in the prolific Bakken oil field in southern Saskatchewan.

* Fairfax Financial Holdings : The property and casualty insurer said on Thursday its fourth-quarter loss widened by 56 percent due to catastrophe claims and losses on the company’s equity hedges.

* West Fraser Timber Co Ltd. : The softwood lumber producer posted a fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations hurt by weak lumber and pulp prices.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* European Goldfields : Canaccord Genuity cuts to hold

* Inter Pipeline Fund : Canaccord Genuity raises price target by C$1 to C$19

* Newalta Corp : Canaccord Genuity raises price target to C$17 from C$16, rating buy

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