CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open lower, index near 18-month high

Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:16am EST

Jan 23 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index looked set to open lower on Wednesday, after closing near an 18-month high in the previous session as investors await results from key U.S. companies to find further trading cues.

TOP STORIES

* The White House welcomed signals by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives that they aim to extend the U.S. debt limit by almost four months, saying the move defuses fears of a damaging U.S. debt default.

* Research In Motion has released a new system to allow its biggest customers to use its new line of BlackBerry 10 smartphones on their own networks, paving the way for the Jan. 30 launch of the make-or-break devices.

* Aurizon Mines Ltd advised shareholders to reject an unsolicited C$780 million takeover offer from rival gold miner Alamos Gold Inc, saying the proposal was inadequate and opportunistic.

* Spain's economy shrank in the final months of 2012 at the fastest pace since its recession began, data showed, pummeled by falling domestic demand and with no return to growth on the horizon.

* Unilever reported 2012 underlying sales growth of 6.9 percent, beating forecasts of 6.5 percent, propelled by double digit growth in emerging markets.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

* Canada stock futures traded down 0.11 percent

* U.S. stock futures , , were mixed in the range of -0.04 percent and 0.15 percent

* European shares, were mixed

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 302.1009; rose 0.04 percent

* Gold futures : $1,693.7; rose 0.05 percent

* US crude : $96.68; was unchanged 0 percent

* Brent crude : $112.48; rose 0.05 percent

* LME 3-month copper : $8,149.25; rose 0.1 percent

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. : Metro Inc said on Tuesday it agreed to sell 48.2 percent of its stake in the gas-bar and the convenience store operator for C$479 million.

* Bank of Nova Scotia. : The bank is targeting growth in Latin American consumer loans and micro-financing, an area that offers wide profit margins at a time when the outlook for loan growth in Scotiabank's home market in Canada is lackluster.

* Celestica Inc. : The contract electronics manufacturer was optimistic about the second half of 2013, despite forecasting first-quarter profit largely below analysts' expectations.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Canadian National Railway Co. : Canaccord Genuity raises target to C$101 from C$96 on the company's solid fourth-quarter results driven by improving revenues and operating ratios and expected growth in 2013

* Canexus Corp. : National Bank Financial raises to outperform from sector perform citing the company's growing 'crude by rail' operations

* First Quantum Minerals Ltd. : National Bank Financial cuts target to C$26 from C$27 after the company's copper production outlook for 2013 was lower than expected

* TransAlta Corp. : National Bank Financial cuts to underperform from sector perform, says Weak power prices in Alberta and the Pacific Northwest combined with maintenance issues on the company's existing baseload generation facilities have placed pressure on its payout ratios and stock price

* TransCanada Corp. : National Bank Financial raises to sector perform from underperform and raises target price to C$51 from C$42.50 after the company said Nebraska's governor approved the re-route of the proposed $5.3 bln Keystone-XL pipeline

ON THE CALENDAR

* Major Canadian economic data includes BOC rate decision

* Major U.S. events and data includes mortgage index and refining index

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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