March 6 (Reuters) - Canada's stock index futures pointed to a flat opening on Thursday as the crisis in Ukraine continued to unsettle markets and investors digested key U.S. labor data.
* Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum within 10 days on the decision in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.
* The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected and hit a three-month low last week, a sign of strength in a labor market that has been hobbled by severe weather.
* Oil and gas giants Chesapeake Energy and Encana Corp were charged on Wednesday with colluding to keep oil and gas lease prices artificially low in Michigan, state Attorney General Bill Schuette said.
* Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Canada's No.2 oil and gas company, reported a 17 percent rise in quarterly profit, helped by higher output at its Pelican Lake project in Alberta.
* Canada stock futures traded unchanged
* U.S. stock futures , , were up
* European shares, were up
COMMODITY PRICE MOVES
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 306.1278; fell 0.2 percent
* Gold futures : $1334.9; fell 0.4 percent
* US crude : $100.79; fell 0.65 percent
* Brent crude : $107.63; fell 0.12 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $7037; rose 0.1 percent
CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH
* Linamar Corp : The auto parts maker reported higher net earnings for the fourth quarter on Wednesday, bolstered by stronger sales in North America, Asia and Europe.
* Kinross Gold Corp : The miner said unionized employees went on strike at its Maricunga mine in Chile, forcing it to suspended operations at the site.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Cott Corp : CIBC cuts to sector performer from sector outperformer and cuts target price to $9 from $10. Says the U.S. carbonated soft drink industry's annual structural decline of -3% to -4% will lead to falling volumes for the company
* Laurentian Bank of Canada : Barclays raises target price to C$47 from C$46 on the company's stable net interest margins, increased portfolio diversification and decline in integration costs in its first-quarter results
* Linamar Corp : CIBC raises to sector outperformer from sector performer and raises target price to C$60 from C$42 based on the company's strong fourth-quarter results
* Painted Pony Petroleum Ltd : CIBC raises target price to C$10.25 from C$9 on the company's strong increase in reserves
ON THE CALENDAR
* Major Canadian data include building permits and Ivey PMI
* Major U.S. data includes factory orders, durable goods and productivity data