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Bay Street Seen Opening Lower

Lower futures and weakness in global markets amid renewed worries about the coronavirus outbreak are likely to push Canadian stocks lower Thursday morning.

Activity may turn stock specific later on with earnings announcements and other corporate news providing some direction.

On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index, which recorded a fresh high at 17,873.13, ended the session with a gain of 55.74 points, or 0.31%, at 17,832.85.

In company news, Precision Drilling Corp. (PD.TO) reported break even per share for the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to a loss of C$0.68, last year. Adjusted EBITDA was C$105 million, 22% lower than prior year.

Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) reported a net income of $719 million for the fourth quarter, up 24% from $580 milllion in the year-ago quarter. The company said it earned $1.22 per share in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from 96 cents per share a year earlier.

Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) said it earned $1.23 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $593 million a year earlier.

Last year's net income included a restructuring charge. Excluding one-time items, core earnings increased 10.5 per cent to $1.48 billion from $1.34 billion. That equalled 73 cents per diluted share up from 65 cents per share in the prior year and one cent below analyst forecasts, according to the financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Asian markets ended lower on Thursday as worries about coronavirus resurfaced after the adoption of new methodology for counting infections. Accordimg to reports there were 242 deaths from the virus in the Chinese province of Hubei on Wednesday - the bulk of it due to reclassification. The number of new infections increased, with 14,840 people diagnosed with the virus.

European markets are lower, dragged by losses in automobile and resources sectors, after an increase in the number of deaths due to the coronavirus in Hubei on Wednesday, and a sharp increase in the number of cases infected with the virus.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March are down $0.17, or 0.33%, at $51.00 a barrel.

Gold futures for April are up $4.30, or 0.27%, at $1,575.90 an ounce.

Silver futures for March are rising $0.088, or 0.5%, at $17.585 an ounce, while Copper futures for March are declining $0.0080, or 0.31%, at $2.5910 per pound.

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