TSX set to rise on higher oil, metals; further Dreamliner woes to pressure N.Y.

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TORONTO - The Toronto stock market headed for a positive open Thursday amid rising commodity prices.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.1 of a cent to 101.31 cents US.

U.S. futures were mixed amid earnings disappointments in the banking sector and further Dreamliner woes for aircraft maker Boeing Inc. The Dow Jones industrial futures edged up six points to 13,443.

The Nasdaq futures gained seven points to 2,733 and the S&P 500 futures rose 1.75 points to 1,467.25.

Boeing shares lost another two per cent in pre-market trading after American and European authorities grounded the company’s 787 Dreamliner, its newest and most technologically advanced airliner, until the risk of battery fires is resolved.

Japan’s two largest air carriers voluntarily grounded their 787s on Wednesday ahead of an order by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, following an emergency landing by one of the planes in Japan. On Thursday, the European Aviation Safety Agency ordered all European carriers to ground the jetliner. Other airlines have also grounded their 787 fleet.

On the earnings front, Bank of America was dragged down by mortgage settlements in the fourth quarter, though it had already warned its shareholders of that. But it fell well short on revenue expectations and shares edged down 1.44 per cent in pre-market trading.

Citigroup registered a big earnings miss, with earnings per share of 69 cents ex-items against the 96 cents that analysts had expected and its shares were down 1.25 per cent in pre-market.

In the resource sector, the chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto PLC and another senior executive are stepping down after the company announced huge writedowns from its aluminum business and an acquisition of a coal company in Mozambique.

The company disclosed that it will take an impairment charge of approximately $14 billion in its 2012 results to be published on Feb. 14, including about $3 billion on the acquisition of Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique, and $10 billion or more on the value of the company's aluminum assets. Its shares were down 0.6 per cent in pre-market trading in New York.

In other corporate developments, Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF) and Khazanah Nasional Berhad are teaming up to purchase 98 per cent of a Malaysian life insurance company from its two current owners, which include British insurance group Aviva PLC. Sun Life and Khazanah are purchasing the CIMB Aviva Assurance Berhad life insurance company as well as CIMB Aviva Takaful Berhad for a total shared cost of $586 million.

Oil prices headed higher, building on Wednesday’s gain of almost $1 after data showed that crude inventories unexpectedly rose by 46,000 barrels last week instead of declining as analysts had expected.

Prices were also supported by an attack on a natural gas plant deep in the Sahara desert in Algeria. Islamist militants are holding dozens of hostages.

Oil prices headed higher, building on Wednesday’s gain of almost $1 after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude supplies declined by one million barrels last week. Analysts polled by Platts expected a 2.5-million-barrel climb.

March copper in New York rose one cent to US$3.62 a pound while February bullion declined $1.90 to US$1,681.30 an ounce.

European bourses were mainly higher as London's FTSE 100 index rose 0.17 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX was unchanged while the Paris CAC 40 advanced 0.8 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed nearly 0.1 per cent, South Korea’s Kospi fell almost 0.2 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1 per cent. Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.1 per cent ahead of key economic data.

Traders are waiting for China’s growth data Friday to help assess the strength of the global economy. China will release fourth-quarter growth data for 2012 as well as overall GDP figures for the year.

Organizations: TSX, Boeing Inc., Dow Jones Sun Life Financial Inc. U.S. Federal Aviation Administration European Aviation Safety Agency Bank of America Citigroup Rio Tinto PLC Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique Khazanah Nasional Berhad Aviva PLC U.S. Energy Information Administration Platts FTSE 100 Shanghai

Geographic location: New York, TORONTO, U.S. Japan Mozambique Sahara Algeria London Frankfurt Asia China

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