Oct 2 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index looked set to open lower on Wednesday as a partial U.S. government shutdown entered its second day, with investors worrying about its implications on debt ceiling talks later this month.
* President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans came no closer to ending a standoff on Tuesday that has forced the first government shutdown in 17 years and thrown hundreds of thousands 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 to see whether a fragile euro zone recovery strengthens.
* Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta appeared on course to win a confidence vote following a flood of defections from media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party.
* Three of the top 20 investors in Microsoft Corp are lobbying the board to press for Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the software company he co-founded 38 years ago, according to people familiar with matter.
* Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, posted flat sales 18 months into a 1 billion pound recovery plan for its main home market, a lack of growth exposed by accelerating sales at rival J Sainsbury.
* Canada stock futures traded down 0.43 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were down around 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 0 percent
CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH
* Agrium Inc : The Canadian fertilizer company said on Tuesday it has completed its purchase of Viterra Inc's Canadian farm retail stores.
* Pacific Rubiales : The company will offer more Colombian crude on the open market by December after it takes over the production of Petrominerales, two sources with knowledge of the deal said
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Imax Corp : Benchmark starts with hold rating on its U.S. listed shares; price target of $29.42, says it remains optimistic near term over the Imax brand and premium ticket experience they offer to a rapidly unfolding international growth opportunity.
* Milestone Apartments REIT : National Bank Financial starts with outperform rating; target C$11.60, says the company's integrated management platform is poised for outsized growth in strong U.S. markets.
* Paladin Labs Inc : BMO starts with market perform rating; target price C$66, says the company has good growth potential partly offset by risks.
* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc : BMO raises target price of its U.S. listed shares to $123 from $109 following Merck's announcement that it will focus its operations in 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 national employment and ISM