May 4, 2012 / 12:57 PM / in 6 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX set to open lower after U.S. jobs data

May 4 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was set to open lower on Friday, a day after posting its biggest one-day drop in two months, after U.S. payroll data showed employers decreased hiring, but the unemployment rate still fell.

TOP STORIES

* U.S. employers decreased hiring for the second straight month in April but the unemployment rate still fell to 8.1 percent, giving mixed messages about the economy’s strength ahead of President Barack Obama’s November re-election bid.

* The euro zone’s vast services sector shriveled at a much faster rate in April than initially thought, a business survey showed on Friday, suggesting that the bloc’s recession could extend through to mid-year.

* China’s services sector enjoyed its busiest month in half a year in April with business expectations at their highest level in 12 months, a private sector survey of purchasing managers showed on Friday.

* Canadian Natural Resources Ltd’s first-quarter profit surged more than ninefold as sales of light and heavy oil rose 5 percent, partly offsetting an unplanned oil sands outage and weaker domestic oil and gas prices, the country’s largest independent energy producer said on Thursday.

* Facebook Inc aims to raise about $10.6 billion in Silicon Valley’s largest IPO, dwarfing the coming-out parties of tech companies like Google Inc and granting the world’s largest social network a market value close to Amazon.com‘s.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

* Canada stock futures traded down 0.35 percent

* U.S. stock futures , , were lower.

* European shares, were down

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* Thomson Reuters-Jeffries CRB Index : 300.23; -0.41 percent

* Gold Futures : $1629.6; -0.28 percent

* US Crude : $100.56; -1.93 percent

* Brent Crude : $114.71; -1.18 percent

* LME 3-month Copper : $8213.75; -0.19 percent

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Penn West Petroleum Ltd, one of Western Canada’s largest conventional oil and gas producers, reported an 80 percent fall in first-quarter profit on decade-low natural gas prices.

* Vermilion Energy Inc’s quarterly profit rose as it produced more oil and gas and benefited from higher oil prices.

* Thompson Creek Metals Co Inc. : Spiraling development and operational costs nearly wiped off the molybdenum miner’s first-quarter profit.

* Eldorado Gold : The miner’s first-quarter profit rose 29 percent, helped by higher gold prices.

* TransCanada Corp. : The company will ask the U.S. government as early as Friday for approval to build the $7.6 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline which has been put on hold due to environmental concerns, the Washington Post reported late on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

* Sierra Wireless Inc. : The mobile modem maker posted a first-quarter profit, helped in part by higher gross margins and increased strength at its mobile computing unit.

* Russel Metals Inc. : The metal distribution company reported flat quarterly earnings on Thursday as increased materials costs outweighed higher sales revenue.

* Bonavista Energy Corp. : The oil and gas company posted a 37 percent rise in first-quarter profit, helped in part by higher production.

* GMP Capital : The investment dealer reported a quarterly loss on a sharp fall in investment banking revenue and the company halved its quarterly dividend.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Jean Coutu : Barclays, Canaccord, NBF raised price target on strong quarterly results

* Manulife Financial : Barclays ups target to C$14 from C$13 and overweight rating, on longer term core earnings growth

* Home Capital Group : NBF cuts target to C$60 from C$66 on weaker-than expected quarterly earnings

* Pembina Pipeline Corp : Canaccord Genuity raises to buy from hold, price target to C$33 from C$30; NBF raises target to C$33 from C$32, outperform rating, on strong 1st-qtr results

* Riocan REIT : Canaccord Genuity ups target to C$28 from C$26.25, rating hold, as FFO rose on same property growth, accretive acquisitions.

ON THE CALENDAR

* Major Canadian economic data includes Ivey PMI

* Major U.S. events and data includes payrolls and Hourly earnings

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