CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open down with U.S. shrs after recent rise

March 19 Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:56am EDT

March 19 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to open lower on Monday, mirroring weakness in U.S. shares, with investors keen to first see more evidence of improvement in the economies of Europe and the United States before extending a recent rally.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures pointed to a lower open.

* U.S. stock index futures slipped, indicating equities may pull back from nearly 4-year highs, after Apple said it will initiate a dividend and share repurchase program.

* European stocks lost ground in early trade, slipping from 8-month highs hit last week as investors waited for more evidence of improvement in the economies of Europe and the United States before chasing the market's brisk 2-month rally.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, rose 0.19 percent in early trade.

* Brent crude oil held around $125 as tension over Iran's nuclear program supported prices, offsetting news of an increase in production from Saudi Arabia and efforts by the United States to ease supply fears.

* Gold steadied above two-month lows, following its largest weekly fall last week in three months, as evidence of investor and central bank demand in recent weeks helped offset the negative impact of a weaker euro.

* Copper steadied as investors weighed concern about demand in top consumer China, where the key property sector has cooled, against an improved outlook in the U.S., the world's largest economy.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Ensign Energy Services Inc. The oilfield services provider's fourth-quarter profit rose 64 percent as the company benefited from the continued drilling boom in North America.

* Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. : A poll of about a third of the company's shareholders found that 91 percent of them want management change at the railroad company, which is the target of a shake-up campaign by activist investor Pershing Square Capital Management.

* Air Canada : The airline has asked the government's labor relations board to intervene after an unusually large number of pilots called in sick on a busy spring-break weekend, contributing to numerous flight cancellations, the company said on Sunday.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.

* Advantage Oil : CIBC cuts price target to C$5.25 from C$5.75

* Astral Media : National Bank Financial raises price target to C$50 from C$42

* Badger Daylighting : Canaccord Genuity raises price target to C$28.50 from C$24

* Canaco : CIBC cuts price target to C$2.80 from C$4.50

* Chartwell Seniors : CIBC raises price target to C$10 from C$9.75

* Industrial Alliance : National Bank Financial raises target to C$34 from C$29

* North West Company : CIBC raises price target to C$22 from C$21