Nov 17 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open slightly lower on Wednesday as commodity prices, including oil, weakened on renewed worries that China will hike interest rates to fight inflation.
FACTORS TO WATCH
* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a lower open.
* U.S. stock index futures were little changed as investors weighed debt woes Ireland and digested final terms of GM’s initial public offering. [.N]
* European stocks were slightly up, halting a week-long pullback with investors picking up beaten-down banking and mining shares, but persistent concerns over Ireland’s debt kept gains in check. [.EU]
* Asian stocks were largely low with an exception of Japan’s Nikkei which erased earlier losses after falling a percent due to the prospect of more European bailouts and concerns over further tightening measures by China.
COMMODITY PRICE MOVES
* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark was little changed in early trade.
* Oil fell below $82 a barrel along with falls in broader markets due to renewed worries China may hike interest rates to fight inflation. [O/R]
* Gold eased in Europe as the euro extended losses against the dollar, strength in which is curbing interest in the metal as an alternative asset, and as talk of a Chinese rate rise pressured commodities. [GOL/]
* Copper retreated to its lowest level in nearly two months as euro zone debt concerns sent investors fleeing from risk and as speculation mounted that top consumer China might raise interest rates. [MET/L]
CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH
* Potash Corp. (POT.TO): Fertilizer maker said on Tuesday it plans to launch a stock buyback worth up to $2 billion, after Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton scrapped its $39 billion hostile takeover bid.[ID:nN16156346]
* Research In Motion RIM.TO: India and the blackberry maker have moved closer to an agreement on lawful access and monitoring of the highly-secure corporate email services on BlackBerry devices, the Mint newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing an unnamed interior ministry official. [ID:nSGE6AG047]
* Metro Inc. MRUa.TO: The grocer reported a stronger fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday, beating market estimates, helped by improved store operations. [ID:nSGE6AG084]
* Arise Technologies APV.TO: The solar technology provider said it plans to more than double production at its German plant and that it is in talks with a private European company to commercialize its silicon technology. [ID:nSGE6AF0LA]
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]
* Alange Energy ALE.V rating cut to market perform from outperform at Raymond James
* Avenir Diversified Income Trust AVF_u.TO price target raised to C$6.25 from C$5.50; keeps outperform rating at Raymond James
* GASFRAC Energy Services Inc GFS.V rating raised to strong buy from outperform at Raymond James
* Petrobank Energy and Resources Ltd PBG.TO rating cut to market perform from outperform at Raymond James
* Ram Power RPG.TO price target cut to C$3.50 from C$4.35; keeps outperform rating at Raymond James
($1= $1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Kishan Nair and Bangalore newsroom; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)