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Before the Bell: TSX set for gains as commodities firm

The Before the Bell report is compiled by editors of The Globe and Mail and is updated throughout the morning to reflect latest developments. Colin Cieszynski, Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Market Technician, is chief market strategist with CMC Markets.

Stock markets have been holding steady overnight, consolidating this week's gains. U.S. index futures and Germany's Dax are flat while the FTSE is up 0.25 per cent. Futures for the TSX 60 are up about 0.3 per cent, finding support from general firmness across commodities.

In currency action, the U.S. dollar is down slightly, enabling other currencies like gold, the Japanese yen and the Canadian dollar to build on recent gains. The British pound continues to attract renewed interest following hawkish dissent at Thursday's Bank of England meeting.

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Crude oil's rebound continues, with West Texas Intermediate and Brent rising another ‎0.3 per cent. Comments out of Saudi Arabia about potentially extending supply cuts past June are attracting attention, with U.S. drilling activity data due later in the day.

Today's focus for traders is on politics, however, with a number of big meetings scheduled. German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with U.S. President Donald Trump this afternoon, looking to improve relations following criticism from the U.S. about Germany's big trade surplus and how its membership in the euro ‎depresses its currency relative to a standalone Deutschemark.

G20 finance ministers are meeting today in Germany, with ministers likely trying to find common ground on trade somewhere between fully open markets and protectionism. Currencies and competitive devaluation are likely to top the agenda too as they often do at these events.

In the U.K., the Conservative party and the Scottish National Party are both holding internal meetings today. Brexit is likely to be top of mind, with the Brexit bill having received Royal Assent clearing the way Prime Minister Elizabeth May to trigger Article 50. Thursday, the Prime Minister rejected calls for a second Scottish Referendum, saying "now is not the time." ‎The government is planning to trigger Article 50 to launch Brexit negotiations, perhaps around next week's Eurogroup finance ministers meeting Monday, or more likely, the EU Summit on Saturday the 25th.

Now, here's a closer look at this morning's data, plus economic and corporate news.

MARKET DATA:

Futures (as of about 7:30 a.m. ET)

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Dow +0.08 per cent; S&P 500 +0.01 per cent; Nasdaq: +0.09 per cent; TSX 60 +0.32 per cent

Equities
Japan's Nikkei -0.35 per cent
Shanghai composite index -0.97 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng +0.09 per cent 
Germany's DAX +0.08 per cent
London's FTSE +0.12 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.44 per cent

Commodities
WTI crude oil (Nymex April) +0.62 per cent at $49.05 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex April) +0.11 per cent at $1,228.70 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex May) +0.13 per cent at $2.681 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies
Canadian dollar -0.0016 at 74.92 cents (U.S.)
U.S. dollar index unch at 100.360

Bonds
Canada 10-year bond yield -0.022 at 1.780 per cent

KEY ECONOMIC RELEASES

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(8:30 a.m. ET) Canada manufacturing sales and new orders for January. Estimates are increases of 0.2 per cent and 0.5 per cent, respectively.
(9:15 a.m. ET) U.S. industrial production and capacity utilization for February. Consensus estimates are a decline of 0.2 per cent and 75.5 per cent (up 0.2 per cent) from previous month, respectively.
(10 a.m. ET) University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment for March.

KEY STOCKS TO WATCH

Valeant U.S.-listed shares was up 4.5 per cent at $11.70 in premarket trading after ValueAct Capital raised its stake in the drug company.

Tiffany's shares rose 1.4 per cent to $91.20, after the company posted its second straight rise in quarterly revenue, boosted by strong demand for its high-end jewelry in Japan and China.

Adobe shares were up 5.6 per cent at $129.15 after the company posted better-than-expected quarterly results, buoyed by demand for its Creative Cloud package of software tools, which includes Photoshop.

Private equity firm KKR and Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec agreed to buy USI Insurance Services from Onex Corp in a deal valuing the insurance brokerage at $4.3 billion.

Other earnings today include: Hardwoods Distribution Inc.; Progressive Corp.; and Stella-Jones Inc.

Also see: Friday's small-cap stocks to watch

Also see: Friday's analyst upgrades and downgrades

With files from wire services

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