CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open lower on uncertainty over U.S. budget

Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:18am EST

Dec 17 (Reuters) - Canadian stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Monday as uncertainty over the outlook for U.S. budget talks kept investors on the sidelines ahead of the holiday season. U.S. stock index futures pointed to a mixed open.

TOP STORIES

* The first real movement in the "fiscal cliff" talks began on Sunday, with Republican House Speaker John Boehner edging slightly closer to President Barack Obama's key demands as they try to avert the steep tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect unless Congress intervenes by Dec. 31.

* Japan's next prime minister, Shinzo Abe, buoyed by a landslide election victory, piled pressure on the central bank as it prepared for a policy meeting, saying voters had overwhelmingly backed his call for aggressive monetary stimulus.

* Sun Life said it will sell its U.S. annuity business and some life insurance businesses for $1.35 billion to Delaware Life Holdings, a company owned by shareholders of institutional asset manager Guggenheim Partners

* UBS AG is expected to be hit with a $1 billion-plus fine to settle charges of rigging Libor interest rates this week, making it the second bank to be brought to book for its role in the global scandal.

* Economic growth is slowing to a worrying degree across the euro zone and not only in the periphery, European Central Bank Governing Council member Erkki Liikanen said in an interview to be published on Sunday in Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

* Canada stock futures traded down 0.07 percent

* U.S. stock futures , , were mixed around -0.17 percent to 0.2 percent

* European shares, were down

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 295.549; rose 0.07 percent

* Gold futures : $1,693; fell 0.17 percent

* US crude : $86.67; fell 0.07 percent

* Brent crude : $107.99; fell 0.18 percent

* LME 3-month copper : $8,027; fell 0.47 percent

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Inmet Mining Corp. : First Quantum Minerals Ltd sweetened its unsolicited bid for the company, valuing the smaller rival at about C$5.1 billion, and said the combined entity could potentially become one of the world's top copper producers.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.

* Emera Inc. : National Bank Financial resumes coverage with sector perform rating following the company's equity financing offer to reduce its debt burden

* Inmet Mining Corp. : Canaccord Genuity raises target price to C$82 from C$69 after First Quantum Minerals said that it intends to make a hostile takeover bid for Inmet Mining valued at C$70.54 per share

* North American Palladium Ltd. : CIBC cuts to sector performer from sector outperformer and cuts target price to C$1.70 from C$2.40, says management opaqueness continues to cloud the outlook after the resignation of CFO Jeffrey Swinoga

* TSO3 Inc. : Canaccord Genuity cuts price target to C$2.75 from C$3.25 on valuation.

ON THE CALENDAR

* Major Canadian economic data includes foreign securities and Canadian securities

* Major U.S. events and data includes Empire state index and net capital inflows

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