Oct 2 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index looked set toopen lower on Wednesday as a partial U.S. government shutdownentered its second day, with investors worrying about itsimplications on debt ceiling talks later this month.
* President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans cameno closer to ending a standoff on Tuesday that has forced thefirst government shutdown in 17 years and thrown hundreds ofthousands of federal employees out of work.
* The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged,holding off any fresh policy action for now while it waits tosee whether a fragile euro zone recovery strengthens.
* Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta appeared on course towin a confidence vote following a flood of defections from mediatycoon Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party.
* Three of the top 20 investors in Microsoft Corp arelobbying the board to press for Bill Gates to step down aschairman of the software company he co-founded 38 years ago,according to people familiar with matter.
* Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, posted flat sales 18months into a 1 billion pound recovery plan for its main homemarket, a lack of growth exposed by accelerating sales at rivalJ Sainsbury.
* Canada stock futures traded down 0.43 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were downaround 0.66 percent to 0.35 percent
* European shares, were down
COMMODITY PRICE MOVES
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 285.0485;rose 0.16 percent
* Gold futures : $1,294.3; rose 0.65 percent
* US crude : $102.02; fell 0.02 percent
* Brent crude : $108.2; rose 0.24 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $7,199; was unchanged 0percent
CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH
* Agrium Inc : The Canadian fertilizer company saidon Tuesday it has completed its purchase of Viterra Inc'sCanadian farm retail stores.
* Pacific Rubiales : The company will offer moreColombian crude on the open market by December after it takesover the production of Petrominerales, two sources withknowledge of the deal said
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadiancompanies reported by Reuters.
* Imax Corp : Benchmark starts with hold rating onits U.S. listed shares; price target of $29.42, says it remainsoptimistic near term over the Imax brand and premium ticketexperience they offer to a rapidly unfolding internationalgrowth opportunity.
* Milestone Apartments REIT : National BankFinancial starts with outperform rating; target C$11.60, saysthe company's integrated management platform is poised foroutsized growth in strong U.S. markets.
* Paladin Labs Inc : BMO starts with market performrating; target price C$66, says the company has good growthpotential partly offset by risks.
* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc : BMOraises target price of its U.S. listed shares to $123 from $109following Merck's announcement that it will focus its operationsin its top ten geographic markets
ON THE CALENDAR
* No major Canadian economic data scheduled for the day
* Major U.S. events and data includes ADP nationalemployment and ISM
- Investment & Company Information
- government shutdown
- President Barack Obama
- European Central Bank