March futures on the S&P/TSX index were up 0.1% at 7:04 a.m. ET (12:04 GMT).

Materials shares were set to rise for the seventh session, as gold prices hit a fresh record high, while most non-ferrous metals were set for weekly gains, aided by a weaker dollar amid hopes of U.S. interest rate cuts. [GOL/] [MET/L]

On the flip side, oil prices traded in the red, after some stability on hopes of interest rate cuts in the U.S. and Europe. [O/R]

Market focus would be on the monthly non-farm payrolls numbers (NFP) set for release in the United States at 8:30 a.m. ET, that will provide more details on the strength of the labor market in the country.

The report follows Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's congressional testimony where the policymaker said the U.S. central bank was "not far" from being confident that inflation was declining to the 2% target.

The benchmark U.S. S&P 500 closed at a record high in the previous session after Powell's testimony. [.N]

Due alongside is a monthly reading of domestic employment data, that follows the Bank of Canada's decision on Wednesday to hold interest rates steady. The central bank said that underlying inflation meant it was too early to consider a cut.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended 0.9% higher on Thursday, hitting its highest in nearly two years, boosted by gains in technology and railroad shares. [.TO]

In corporate news, Panama said on Wednesday it had asked First Quantum Minerals to suspend a visitor program launched at the disputed Cobre Panama mine, saying the miner did not consult the government before starting the initiative.


Gold futures: $2,174.6; +0.4% [GOL/]

US crude: $78.44; -0.6% [O/R]

Brent crude: $82.51; -0.5% [O/R]

(Reporting by Purvi Agarwal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)