August 7, 2008 / 1:09 PM / 11 years ago

Toronto stock index set for mixed opening

*TSX could get a boost from oil and gold prices

*U.S. results, jobless claims may weigh on index

*Canadian Natural may be in focus after results

TORONTO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index was set to open mixed on Thursday, on firmness in oil and gold prices and as big names like Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) reported quarterly results.

The price of oil rose to around $121 a barrel, while the gold price also firmed.

The commodity-related groups had provided the main impetus for big gains on Wednesday, as investors returned to stocks that were battered earlier this week.

“I think energy will be a very strong influence,” said Joe Ismail, technical analyst at Maison Placements Canada.

“The senior oil stocks have sort of sold off very quickly. they are at a comfortable zone where I can see bargain-hunters sneaking in, picking up and choosing.”

He said firmness in gold may support the index.

But the market could also take its cue from the United States, where stock futures point to a lower open on results from American International Group Inc (AIG.N) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), said Ismail.

And data showing another rise in U.S. jobless claims may also weigh on the market.

In Toronto, investors face a ream of company results including Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), which reported a quarterly loss, mainly due to risk management losses and delays and higher costs for its Horizon oil sands project. But cash flow hit a record on higher realized energy costs.

Retailers are expected to be in focus including Metro Inc MRUa.TO, Canada’s third-biggest grocery chain, which reported a rise in third-quarter profit and said it planned to spend C$200 million to expand into Ontario.

Other results will include figures from Tim Hortons THI.TO and Canadian Tire (CTC.TO).

In financials, GMP Capital Trust GMP_u.TO said profit fell 59 percent, hurt by rocky financial markets.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE begins the day at 13,453.51. It rose 211.31 points, or 1.6 percent on Wednesday on a rebound in resource sectors and a strong quarterly profit from fertilizer firm Agrium AGU.TO. ($1=$1.05 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Janet Guttsman)

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