CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open lower on U.S. 'fiscal cliff' concerns

Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:30am EST

Dec 24 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to track the U.S. market lower on Monday, amid caution over stalled talks about the U.S. fiscal cliff, with both President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner out of Washington for the holidays.

TOP STORIES

* The wheels could come off the U.S. economy even before it has shifted out of second gear unless politicians reach a last-minute deal to avoid $600 billion in tax rises and spending cuts that kick in next month.

* Rosneft said it secured combined loans of $16.8 billion to finance the acquisition of 50 percent stake in Anglo-Russian oil producer TNK-BP from BP.

* The London Stock Exchange cut its offer for a majority stake in transatlantic clearing house LCH.Clearnet by a quarter to 366 million euros to reflect new capital requirements.

* Two days after stepping down, Mario Monti announced on Sunday he would consider seeking a second term as Italian prime minister if approached by allies committed to backing his austere brand of reforms.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

* U.S. stock futures , , were down around 0.27 percent to 0.43 percent

* European shares, were down

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 293.7841; fell 0.27 percent

* Gold futures : $1,661.4; rose 0.14 percent

* US crude : $88.44; fell 0.25 percent

* Brent crude : $108.36; fell 0.56 percent

* LME 3-month copper : $7,804; fell 0.34 percent

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Great-West Life co. : Canada Life, a unit of the life insurer is close to a deal for state-rescued insurer Irish Life, a source familiar with the negotiations said on Sunday.

* SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. : The engineering company said on Friday that a client had notified the company that it was terminating an engineering, procurement and construction contract awarded to SNC for a froth treatment plant in Alberta's oil sands last November.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Research In Motion : Exane BNP Paribas cuts target price to $5.50 from $8.30; rating neutral

* Americas Petrogas Inc : RBC cuts target price to C$5 from C$7 citing higher political risk surrounding the exploration of shale gas in the Neuquen basin

* Cogeco Cable : Canaccord Genuity cuts target price to C$41 from C$43, maintains caution on the takeover of PEER 1 Network Enterprises Inc by the company citing doubts on near-to-medium term dividend growth

* Madalena Ventures : RBC cuts target price to C$0.70 from C$1.70 to reflect increased risks and a slower exploitation of the Neuquen Basin

ON THE CALENDAR

* No major Canadian economic data scheduled for release

* No major U.S. events and data scheduled for release

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