CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open higher on robust U.S. earnings

Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:25am EST

Jan 17 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index looked set to open higher on Thursday, as encouraging corporate earnings from major Wall Street companies buoyed investor sentiment.

TOP STORIES

* UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, said that fourth-quarter profit rose from a year earlier, exceeding the outlook it gave in November, and also backed its previous forecast for earnings and revenue in 2013.

* Rio Tinto sacked chief executive Tom Albanese and revealed a $14 billion writedown in connection with his two most significant acquisitions, the Alcan aluminium group and Mozambican coal.

* Sun Life Financial Inc and Malaysian state investor Khazanah will buy 98 percent of Aviva Plc's Malaysian insurance joint venture with lender CIMB for C$586 million.

* Improved investor sentiment toward struggling southern European economies helped Spain cut debt costs at an auction, allowing it to reach nearly 9 percent of the year's longer term borrowing needs.

* Airlines scrambled to rearrange flights as Europe, Japan, Qatar and India joined the United States in grounding Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets while battery-related problems are investigated.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

* Canada stock futures traded up 0.14 percent

* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.06 percent and 0.21 percent

* European shares, were up

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 299.553; rose 0.3 percent

* Gold futures : $1,679.8; fell 0.17 percent

* US crude : $94.76; rose 0.55 percent

* Brent crude : $110.14; rose 0.42 percent

* LME 3-month copper : $7,959.75; rose 0.22 percent

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Bank of Nova Scotia : ING Direct Canada will cease selling mortgages through brokers next month due to overlap with the larger broker-sourced mortgage business of its parent company, a bank spokesman said on Wednesday.

* Barrick Gold Corp. : Tanzania-focused gold company African Barrick Gold posted a 9 percent drop in annual production despite a pick-up in mining in the fourth-quarter.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* CML HealthCare Inc. : RBC cuts price target to C$7.25 from C$7.50 on valuation, says the shares had a run recently and the divestment announcement and dividend cut was in line with expectations.

* Denison Mines Corp. : RBC raises price target to C$2.25 from C$2 after the company said it has entered into a friendly deal with Fission Energy whereby Denison will acquire Fission and spin out certain assets and cash into NewCo.

ON THE CALENDAR

* Major Canadian economic data includes Canadian and foreign securities

* Major U.S. events and data includes jobless claims, housing starts and Philadelphia Federal Reserve business activity survey