CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open lower on U.S., Middle East concerns

Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:51am EST

Nov 15 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index looked set to open lower on Thursday, driven by uncertainty over U.S. budget negotiations and an escalation of violence in the Middle East.

TOP STORIES

* The holy grail of conservative tax policy - the theory that lower tax rates will generate stronger revenues by turbo-charging economic growth - has sprung back to life and is stirring controversy again in Washington.

* The European Union's top economic official sought to rule out any write-off of Greece's debt to governments on Thursday after a European central banker said for the first time that a "haircut" on part of it was probable.

* BP Plc is expected to pay a record U.S. criminal penalty and plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster which caused the worst offshore spill in the country's history, sources familiar with discussions said.

* The retailer posted a higher quarterly profit, helped by strong sales of back-to-school merchandise in the United States.

* The euro zone fell into a recession in July-September, the second since the global financial crisis in 2009, as French resilience could not make up for a slump across Europe and the three-year debt crisis slowed Germany to a crawl.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

* Canada stock futures traded down 0.37 percent

* U.S. stock futures , , were mixed in the range of -0.11 percent to 0.18 percent

* European shares, were down

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 294.94; rose 0.22 percent

* Gold futures : $1,724.6; fell 0.28 percent

* US crude : $86.68; rose 0.42 percent

* Brent crude : $111.12; rose 1.38 percent

* LME 3-month copper : $7,628; fell 0.16 percent

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Linamar Corp. : The auto parts maker reported a 57 percent increase in quarterly earnings on Wednesday as stronger demand in the U.S. offset weakness in Europe.

* Migao Corp. : The Chinese fertilizer maker reported a second-quarter loss due to weaker demand for its products and lower selling prices.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Canadian Banks: KBW cuts Bank of Montreal target price to C$60 from C$62 and cuts RBC target price to C$57 from C$58, says anticipates core profitability to remain challenged in the fourth quarter.

* Birchcliff Energy : NBF raises target price to C$9.50 from C$9; rating outperform on solid third-quarter results and expecting more growth in 2013.

* Just Energy Group Inc. : CIBC cuts price target to C$9.50 from C$11 on concern the company will have to cut its dividend due to elevated marketing expenses and its unstable cash flow and balance sheet.

* Loblaw Companies Ltd. : Barclays raises target to C$35 from C$33 and NBF raises target price to C$38 from C$37 on the company's strong third-quarter results and a positive outlook for 2013.

* Metro Inc. : Barclays raises target price to C$56 from C$55, CIBC raises target price to C$64 from C$60 and NBF raises price target to C$65 from C$64 as company's strong execution resulted in positive fourth-quarter results.

ON THE CALENDAR

* Major Canadian economic data includes manufacturing sales

* Major U.S. events and data includes consumer prices, initial claims, Empire State Index and Philly Fed Index

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