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Bay Street Seen Opening Lower

Canadian shares look headed for a weak opening on Thursday, amid rising concerns about global growth and falling crude oil prices.

With several companies reporting their quarterly earnings, activity may well stay stock specific.

According to a report from the Labor Department, initial jobless claims in U.S. declined by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 in the seven days ended February 2. The monthly average of new claims, meanwhile, rose by 4,500 to a two-month high of 224,750.

On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 9.62 points, or 0.06%, at 15,712.31. The index scaled a low of 15,668.58 and a high of 15,745.38 in the session.

In company news, Great-West Lifeco Inc. (GWO.TO) reported net earnings of $710 million or $0.72 per common share for the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to $392 million or $0.40 per common share for the same quarter last year.

Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) announced that it plans to increase its total investment in Canopy Rivers Inc. (RIV) by CDN$30 million.

BCE Inc. (BCE.TO) reported adjusted net earnings of $794 milion and EPS of $0.89 for the fourth quarter, up 7.9% and 8.5%, respectively, compared to year-ago quarter.

Optiva Inc. (OPT.TO) reported net income of $0.5 million for the first quarter of 2019, as compared to net loss of $64.5 million in the year-ago quarter.

Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday amid mild optimism about upcoming crucial U.S.-China trade talks in Beijing next week. In India, stocks ended flat after the Reserve Bank of India unexpectedly cut the repo rate by 0.25% to 6.25%, saying inflation will likely stay within its target range. The bank also changed its monetary policy stance to 'neutral' from the earlier 'calibrated tightening'.

European stocks are down sharply amid rising concerns about growth after the European Union lowered its forecast for 2019 and 2020, and Germany's industrial producion fell for a fourth consecutive month in December.

Major European markets are trading notably lower. The German and French markets are down 1.7% and 0.9%, respectively and the U.K. market is down by about 0.3%.

In economic news, the European Commission slashed Eurozone growth forecast amid rising uncertainty regarding trade policies, particularly between the US and China.

The euro area GDP growth forecast was cut to 1.3% for 2019, from previous estimate of 1.9%. For 2020, the EU revised growth outlook to 1.6%, from 1.7% estimated in autumn forecast.

The EC said that the downgrade reflected external factors, such as trade tensions and the slowdown in emerging markets, notably in China.

Preliminary figures from the Federal Statistical Office showed that Germany's industrial production decreased by a calendar and seasonally-adjusted 0.4% in December, falling for a fourth consecutive month. In November, it decreased 1.3%, revised from 1.9%. Economists had expected a 0.8% increase in December.

The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England left the bank's key interest rate unchanged at 0.75% and said that the slowdown in economic growth continued at the start of this year.

In U.S. economic news, initial jobless claims increased in the week ended February 2, rising to 224,750, from 220,250 a week earlier.

In commodities, crude oil futures for March were declining $0.88, or 1.6%, at $53.13 a barrel.

Gold futures for April were down $0.80, or 0.06% at $1,313.60 an ounce.

Silver futures for March were declining $0.021, or 0.13%, at $15.680 an ounce, while Copper futures for March were down marginally at $2.8360 per pound.

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