CANADA STOCKS-TSX set to open little changed; eye on ECB, U.S. budget talks

Thu Dec 6, 2012 8:54am EST

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to open little changed on Thursday as investors focused on U.S. budget talks after President Barack Obama said a deal was possible in "about a week" if Republicans compromise on taxes.

Investors were also watching comments from a news conference by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi after the ECB's policy meeting.

TOP STORIES

* The European Central Bank held its main interest rate at a record low of 0.75 percent, holding off any further policy easing while it assesses the economic outlook and waits for the chance to use its new bond-purchase programme.

* Toronto-Dominion Bank's reported a flat quarterly profit and said it would buy Epoch Holding Corp, which owns Epoch Investment Partners, for $668 million in cash.

* Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce reported a 13 percent increase in quarterly earnings, driven by higher income from its wholesale banking and wealth management businesses.

* National Bank of Canada's fourth-quarter profit rose 20 percent, driven by a sharp jump in markets-related revenue, and the bank raised its dividend by 5 percent.

* Canadian dollar-store operator Dollarama Inc's third-quarter profit rose 23 percent on higher sales and new store openings.

* Research In Motion outlined a step-by-step program to help its large base of enterprise clients transition across to its soon to be launched new BlackBerry 10 platform.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

* Canada stock futures were little changed

* U.S. stock futures , , were down around 0.09 percent

* European shares, were up

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 297.9562; fell 0.14 percent

* Gold futures : $1,692.1; fell 0.02 percent

* US crude : $87.53; fell 0.4 percent

* Brent crude : $108.31; fell 0.46 percent

* LME 3-month copper : $8,053; fell 0.27 percent

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Air Canada and WestJet Airlines : The airlines flew more passengers in November as demand for air travel remains robust, while regional carrier Porter Airlines reported a slump from last year's levels.

* Husky Energy Inc. : The company and the United Steelworkers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract for the 235 hourly workers at the company's 155,000 barrel per day Lima, Ohio refinery, the union and company said on Wednesday.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Primaris Retail Real Estate Investment Trust : Canaccord Genuity raises price target to C$27.50 from C$27, CIBC raises target price to C$27.50 from C$24.50 and National Bank Financial raises target price to C$28 from C$26.25 after a consortium led by KingSett Capital offered about C$2.6 billion to acquire the company.

* Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. : Citigroup raises price target to $111 from $100 after the company announced turnaround measures including job-cuts which would add to cash flow and reduce operating costs

* Laurentian Bank : Canaccord Genuity cuts price target to C$51.50 from C$54.25 and National Bank Financial cuts to underperform from sector perform after the company reported weak fourth-quarter results on higher-than-expected expenses and lower fee income.

* Niko Resources Ltd. : Canaccord Genuity raises to buy rating on high-impact exploration drilling over the coming year but cuts price target to C$13.50 on valuation including developed and undeveloped discoveries, funding shortfalls, and potential legal liabilities

ON THE CALENDAR

* Major Canadian economic data includes building permits and Ivey PMI

* Major U.S. events and data includes challenger layoffs, initial claims and continuing claims

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