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Jan 4 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index looked set to open lower, dragged down by falling commodities, after minutes of the Federal Reserve's December meeting raised concerns about the possible side effects of the bank's stimulus program.
* U.S. employers likely stepped up hiring in December as businesses took on more staff for the holidays, but the gain will probably not make inroads in the still high unemployment rate.
* Tentative signs emerged in December that the euro zone economy may have passed the worst of its downturn, although a recovery still looks some months away, a business survey showed.
* Spain's largest bank Santander will cut 3,000 jobs following its planned merger with its Banesto subsidiary, Cinco Dias reported, citing sources from unions and close to the bank.
* Greek banks eyeing state-controlled Hellenic Postbank (TT) are expected to express initial interest by Friday, marking the next stage of the sector's consolidation designed to help cope with the debt crisis.
* Canada stock futures traded down 0.25 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were mixed in the range of 0.11 percent and -0.08 percent
* European shares, were mixed
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 294.0349; fell 0.7 percent
* Gold futures : $1,628.8; fell 2.68 percent
* US crude : $91.98; fell 1.01 percent
* Brent crude : $110.83; fell 1.17 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $8,065.5; fell 1.21 percent
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Platino energy corp. : FirstEnergy Capital starts with top pick ranking, price target C$2.50 citing company's strong financial position, significant near term exploration potential and limited downside risk.
* Tricon Capital Group Inc. : Canaccord Genuity raises target price to C$7.20 from C$6.50 on cash flow growth and improved valuation following acquisition of 550 single family rental homes growing its portfolio to 1500 homes in the U.S.
* Major Canadian economic data includes employment change, producer prices and raw materials
* Major U.S. events and data includes jobs, unemployment rate and manufacturing payrolls