March 15 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index was set to open sharply lower on Tuesday as Japan faced a potential catastrophe after a quake-crippled nuclear power plant exploded and sent low levels of radiation floating towards Tokyo.
For further details see: [ID:nLDE72D2FT]
Uranium miners looked set for further sharp falls. U.S.- traded shares of Canada's Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) fell 15.7 percent in premarket trading.
FACTORS TO WATCH
* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a much lower open.
* U.S. stock index futures tumbled about 2 percent as Japan faced a looming nuclear crisis, sending global equities sharply lower in what could be a prolonged bout of turmoil for financial markets. [.N]
* European shares fell to their lowest in more than 14 weeks after Japan warned of significantly higher radiation levels following explosions at one of its quake-stricken nuclear power plants. [.EU]
* Asian markets were in red with Japanese stocks plunging more than 10 percent -- heading for their biggest drop since 1987 -- compounding a slide of 7.6 percent the day before.
COMMODITY PRICE MOVES
* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, fell 2.40 percent in early trade.
* Brent crude continued its drop , falling $4 as Japan's nuclear crisis and concerns over spreading radiation heightened risk aversion across world markets and weighed on oil prices. [O/R]
* Gold ditched its safe-haven mantle and slid by more than 1 percent, caught in a broad-based sell-off by commodity investors who grew increasingly unnerved by Japan's growing nuclear crisis. [GOL/]
* Copper fell more than 1 percent, after Japan warned of high radioactive levels following blasts at a quake-stricken nuclear plant, dampening sentiment across financial markets. [MET/L]
CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH
* Manulife Financial (MFC.TO): The life insurer said on Monday the impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan should be less than C$150 million.[ID:nN14181610]
* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (VRX.TO): The company settled a civil lawsuit brought by the U.S. SEC accusing its predecessor company Biovail Corp of accounting fraud. [ID:nN14129912]
* Sino-Forest Corp. TRE.TO: The company's quarterly profit rose 52 percent and beat analyst estimates because of strong performance at its wood fibre operations. [ID:nL3E7EF1S9]
* Alamos Gold Inc. (AGI.TO): The company reported flat quarterly profit because it sold fewer ounces of gold, and said expenses rose. [ID:nL3E7EF1QA]
* Great Western Minerals Group Ltd (GWG.V): The company is in talks with several potential customers over long-term contracts to sell rare earths produced by the South African mine it is developing, its chairman said. [ID:nN14187027]
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]
* Com Dev International Ltd (CDV.TO) rating raised to sector perform from underperform at National Bank
* Gildan Activewear Inc (GIL.TO) coverage started with hold rating; C$32 price target at Citigroup
* Second Wave Petroleum Inc SCS.TO coverage started with sector perform rating; price target of C$3 at National Bank
($1= $0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Shrutee Sarkar; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)