Feb 1 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index looked set to open higher on Friday, helped by better-than-expected euro zone manufacturing data and news that U.S. job growth grew modestly in January and that gains in the previous two months were bigger than initially reported.
* China’s vast factory sector managed only a shallow rebound at the start of 2013 and manufacturing in the euro zone remained weak, although there the worst may be over, a clutch of surveys suggested.
* Canadian Oil Sands posted a 4.7 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, despite higher production, as oil prices fell.
* Merck & Co’s quarterly results beat forecasts, helped by strong sales of its Januvia diabetes drug and Gardasil vaccine against cervical cancer, but the company issued a full-year 2013 profit view at the low end of Wall Street expectations.
* Banks will pay back another 3.5 billion euros next week of the emergency 3-year loans they took from the European Central Bank a year ago, further deflating the ECB’s balance sheet after they paid back a whopping 137 billion euros this week.
* The Obama administration’s decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline will not be made until at least June, a U.S. official said, which would delay the project for months and frustrate backers of Canada’s oil sands.
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.34 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.24 percent to 0.46 percent
* European shares, were up
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 304.7197; rose 0.08 percent
* Gold futures : $1,665.5; rose 0.3 percent
* US crude : $97.25; fell 0.25 percent
* Brent crude : $116.1; rose 0.48 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $8,191.5; rose 0.32 percent
* Barrick Gold Corp The gold miner has started a process to sell its oil and gas unit, Barrick Energy, as it seeks to offload non-core assets, a company spokesman said on Thursday.
* Sears Canada : The company, which is struggling with shrinking sales and the looming arrival of Target Corp on the Canadian retail scene, said on Thursday it was laying off 700 workers as part of a plan to “right-size” the operation.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Methanex Corp : CIBC raises target price to $33 from $32, says operating issues in Southeast Asia and the Middle East have once again tightened the methanol market.
* Banro Corp : CIBC cuts target price to C$4 from C$4.75 citing lower grades at its Lugushwa project and higher modeled costs at its Kamituga project.
* Atlantic Power Corp : CIBC cuts target price to C$12 from C$12.50 on valuation after the company said it has entered into a sale agreement for its entire Florida-based generating portfolio.
* Exco Technologies Ltd : Canaccord Genuity raises target price to C$6.75 from C$6.50 on its earnings momentum and strong full year outlook.
* Twin Butte Energy Ltd : National Bank Financial cuts price target to C$3.25 from C$3.50, citing the company’s trimmed capital spending outlook for 2013 and operational challenges.
* Major Canadian economic data includes RBC manufacturing PMI
* Major U.S. events and data includes non-farm payrolls data, Markit manufacturing PMI, Reuters/UMich data, ISM, construction spending and domestic car and truck sales