CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open lower, Fed minutes and euro zone PMI weigh

Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:39am EST

Feb 21 (Reuters) - Canadian stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday, dragged down soft euro zone data and minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting which suggested the possibility of the central bank ending its stimulus program.

TOP STORIES

* The schism dividing the euro zone's strong and weak economies deepened to include its core pairing in February as French firms suffered their worst month in four years in stark contrast to prospering Germany.

* A number of Federal Reserve officials think the central bank might have to slow or stop buying bonds before seeing the pickup in hiring the program is designed to deliver, according to minutes of the central bank's policy meeting last month.

* Bombardier reported a 93 percent drop in fourth quarter profit after taking a restructuring charge of $119 million.

* Tim Hortons reported a dip in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday and raised its dividend even as it said a tough market may hold back sales growth in its established coffee shops during the current quarter.

* Loblaw Cos Ltd posted an 18 percent fall in fourth-quarter profit on a restructuring charge.

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc posted a higher quarterly profit and raised its dividend payout on Thursday, as efforts such as extending its lay away program and matching competitors' prices attracted shoppers during the competitive holiday season.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

* Canada stock futures traded down 0.44 percent

* U.S. stock futures , , were down around 0.2 percent to 0.38 percent

* European shares, were down

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 294.8492; fell 0.75 percent

* Gold futures : $1,572.5; fell 0.32 percent

* US crude : $93.82; fell 1.47 percent

* Brent crude : $114.08; fell 1.31 percent

* LME 3-month copper : $7,859; fell 1.27 percent

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Celtic Exploration Ltd : The company said the Canadian government has approved its acquisition by Exxon Mobil Corp, paving the way for the $2.64 billion deal to be closed four months after it was first announced.

* Centerra Gold Inc : The miner reported a fourth-quarter loss on a one-time accounting charge and said it expected to incur closure costs related to underground operations at Kumtor during the first quarter of 2013.

* Hudbay Minerals Inc : The base metal miner reported a 78 percent decrease in quarterly net profit, driven largely by a sharp decrease in total sales volume and lower metals prices.

* Iamgold Corp : The mining company reported a 37 percent decrease in quarterly net profit on Wednesday due to lower metal prices and lower sales volumes.

* Imax Corp : The movie system maker's fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, helped by theater network growth and strong box office performances.

* Rona Inc : The home-improvement retailer and distributor reported a quarterly loss, due to charges related to restructuring, asset impairments and other one-time items.

* Yamana Gold Inc : The gold miner reported a boost in quarterly profit on Wednesday as strong gold production and sales outweighed higher operating costs.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Barrick Gold Corp : RBC cuts target price to $37 from $41. It expects the company's core operations in Cortez and Goldstrike to be weaker in 2013 on pit wall stability issues and lower grades.

* IAMGOLD Corp : Canaccord Genuity cuts target price to $9.50 from $12.75 on valuation after the company's reserves fell year-on-year and removal of the Sadiola Sulfide expansion.

* Sirius XM Canada Holdings Inc : RBC raises target price to C$8.50 from C$7 and says an under-appreciated growth opportunity in used cars could be a catalyst for the company.

* Thomson Reuters Corp : National Bank Financial cuts to underperform from sector perform, citing zero percent potential return after recent share gains.

ON THE CALENDAR

* No major Canadian economic data scheduled for release

* Major U.S. events and data includes jobless claims, PMI and home sales data