March 24 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open slightly higher on Thursday, with gold miners likely to benefit as bullion prices rose on jitters over Europe’s sovereign debt woes and violence in the Middle East
* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a higher open.
* U.S. stock index futures rose as investors shifted focus to jobs data later in the morning, temporarily brushing off euro zone debt concerns. [.N]
* European shares edged higher in early trade, lifted by gains in retailers after upbeat results in the sector, though low volumes showed investors stayed on the sidelines as caution over the euro zone debt crisis lingered. [.EU]
* Asian stocks rose, while Nikkei and Shanghai Composite closed in red on radiation leak fears and profit taking
* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, rose 0.07 percent in early trade.
* Brent crude see-sawed on Thursday, as concerns about instability in the Middle East were offset by worries about the economic health of the euro zone following the resignation of Portugal’s prime minister. [O/R]
* Gold and silver prices rose as jitters over the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, violence in the Middle East and worries over radiation leaks in Japan conspired to blunt risk appetite. [GOL/]
* Copper prices rose to their highest in almost three weeks, weathering dismal U.S. housing data and taking strength from improving demand in other sectors, including transportation. [MET/L]
* Bombardier Inc. (BBDb.TO). The world’s third-largest commercial aircraft maker signed an agreement to work on commercial planes with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. [ID:nL3E7EO1II]
* Yamana Gold Inc (YRI.TO): The company said it increased its stake in Aura Minerals Inc by four-fifths to 18.7 percent by buying about 19 million shares of the mineral exploration company. [ID:nL3E7EN3N5]
* Sprott Inc. (SII.TO): The fund manager’s fourth-quarter profit rose seven-fold, helped by the launch of new funds and its exposure to gold and silver. [ID:nL3E7EO1F3].
* Alamos Gold Inc. (AGI.TO): The company said its measured and indicated gold resources rose by more than a third in 2010. [ID:nL3E7EO1K1]
* Imax Corp. IMX.TO: The company, which operates a chain of big-screen movie theatres, said it has signed a 75-theatre joint revenue-sharing deal with China’s Wanda Cinema Line Corp, marking the firm’s largest international deal. [ID:nL3E7EO0CR]
* Torex Gold Resources Inc. (TXG.TO): The gold miner said it has temporarily suspended drilling at its Morelos gold project in Mexico to beef up security at the site. [ID:nL3E7EO1GG]
* Emerge Oil & Gas Inc. EME.TO: The company’s fourth-quarter sales volumes beat its own estimates, but the exploration company posted a wider loss, weighed down by lower realized oil prices and higher operating expenses. [ID:nL3E7EN3RF]
* Cequence Energy Ltd. (CQE.TO): The oil and gas explorer raised its annual production outlook 7 percent and nearly doubled its capital expenditure view after a successful winter drilling program at Wilrich and Montney plays in Simonette, Alberta. [ID:nL3E7EN3P1]
* Greystar GSL.TO: Colombia’s energy minister said on Wednesday that an underground mine for the company’s Angostura gold and silver project was not viable if it compromised paramo or sub-paramo environment systems. [ID:nN23284269]
* Azure Dynamics Corp. AZD.TO: The company, which makes hybrid electric components for commercial vehicles, posted a slightly wider quarterly loss, missing analysts’ estimates, on higher expenses, but forecast higher 2011 revenue. [ID:nL3E7EN3JS]
* Crocotta Energy Inc CTA.TO: The oil and natural gas company posted a narrower-than-expected fourth-quarter loss, helped mainly by lower operating and interest expenses. [ID:nL3E7EO1QE]
* MKS Inc MKX.TO: The software and services provider forecast fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ expectations, citing higher license transactions. [ID:nL3E7EN3PK]
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]
* Azure Dynamics AZD.TO price target cut to C$0.40 from C$0.45; rating outperform at National Bank
$1= $0.97 Canadian Reporting by Kishan Nair; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson