CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open higher after bank earnings top forecasts
Feb 28 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to open higher on Thursday, helped by stronger-than-forecast results from Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
* Royal Bank of Canada reported a stronger-than-expected 12 percent rise in quarterly profit on the back of stronger loan growth and capital markets income, prompting the bank to raise its dividend by 5 percent.
* Toronto-Dominion Bank reported a 21 percent rise in quarterly profit, driven by loan growth at its Canadian and U.S. retail banks and allowing it to raise its dividend by 5 percent.
* Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce reported a 4 percent drop in quarterly profit due largely to a C$148 million charge for a legal settlement with bankrupt U.S. bank Lehman Brothers.
* Positions hardened on Wednesday between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders over the budget crisis even as they arranged to hold last-ditch talks to prevent harsh automatic spending cuts beginning this week.
* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, the largest publicly traded drug maker in Canada, reported a fourth-quarter loss, largely due to costs related to its $2.6 billion acquisition of Medicis Pharmaceuticals Corp.
* Bankers in Europe face a cap on bonuses as early as next year, following agreement in Brussels to introduce what would be the world's strictest pay curbs, in a move politicians hope will address public anger at financial-sector greed.
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.15 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.07 percent to 0.17 percent
* European shares, were up
COMMODITY PRICE MOVES
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 293.4308; rose 0.02 percent
* Gold futures : $1,588.6; fell 0.41 percent
* US crude : $92.74; fell 0.02 percent
* Brent crude : $112.39; rose 0.46 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $7,864.5; fell 0.07 percent
CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH
* Catamaran Corp : The pharmacy benefit manager reported a 59 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit, helped by the acquisition of HealthTran.
* Nexen Inc : Chinese oil company CNOOC Ltd is giving the leader of the Canadian unit freedom to get operations running smoothly after an exhaustive seven-month acquisition process, CNOOC's CEO said on Wednesday.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* First National Financial Corp : National Bank Financial raises target price to C$19 from C$18, says the company remains well-positioned to mute the impact of weakening housing markets and dividend is well supported.
* IBI Group Inc : Canaccord Genuity raises to buy from hold, target price to C$8.50 from C$7, citing the company's potential return and 9 percent dividend yield.
* Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc : CIBC cuts target price to C$39 from C$41 to reflect the dilution of the company's earnings per share after it announced the issuance of fresh equity.
* Trican Well Service Ltd : Canaccord Genuity raises target price to C$12.50 from C$10.50 on valuation, says expectations margins will return to normalized levels, cost-optimisation benefits and better activity levels.
* Twin Butte Energy Ltd : CIBC cuts price target to C$2.65 from C$2.75 on valuation after the company provided an updated reserve estimate.
ON THE CALENDAR
* Major Canadian economic data includes current account deficit.
* Major U.S. events and data includes revised GDP data and jobless claims.
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