Futures Rocket in Toronto

CP, Rogers in Focus

Equity markets in Canada’s largest centre were set to open higher on Thursday, as oil prices rose after leading Gulf oil producers signaled a likely extension of supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries beyond the middle of the year.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index slouched 69.69 points to conclude Wednesday at 15,552.88, with June futures springing up 0.4% Thursday.

The Canadian dollar diminished 0.06 cents to 74.12 cents U.S. early Thursday.

Canadian Pacific Railway reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it earned more from shipments of commodities such as grain and coal, and the company expressed optimism that demand was improving.

Barclays raised the target price on Rogers Communications to $63.00 from $57.00

BMO raised the price target on Surge Energy to $3.25 from $3.00, with an outperform rating.

On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported Thursday that Canadians drawing regular employment insurance benefits numbered 554,200 in February, or 11,700, or 2.1%, fewer than the month before.

The agency says the number is similar to the level of June 2016 — just before the administrative changes that took effect last July.

Elsewhere, data showed early Thursday that lending activity to small Canadian businesses dipped in February, though borrowing by medium-sized firms rose for the fourth month in a row on strength in the construction sector and oil-related provinces.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange plummeted 6.27 points Wednesday to 824.51.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday after the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 200 points over the last two days

Ahead of the opening bell, futures for the Dow Jones Industrials climbed 34 points, or 0.2%, to 20,369. Futures for the S&P 500 added 6.25 points, or 0.3%, to 2,340. NASDAQ futures hiked 19.5 points, or 0.4%, to 5,417.25

Wednesday's fall came after IBM's sales fell for the 20th straight quarter on a year-over-year basis.

On the earnings front, Travelers and Verizon are among companies that reported before the bell on Thursday. Visa and Mattel are set to report after the bell.

Economically speaking, early Thursday will see initial jobless claims and the Philadelphia Fed index released, with leading indicators set to come out at 10 a.m. ET.

European stocks were fairly flat in the early European afternoon, while in Asia, the Nikkei 225 index was static, while the CSI 300 in Shanghai took on 0.5%.

Oil prices gained 10 cents to $50.54 U.S. per barrel.

Gold prices faded $2.10 to $1,281.30 U.S. an ounce.