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Dec 18 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to open higher on Tuesday, tracking global markets, fueled by expectation that U.S. lawmakers might reach an agreement to avoid looming tax increases and spending cuts that threaten to hurt the world's biggest economy.
* The differences over how to resolve the "fiscal cliff" narrowed significantly Monday night as President Barack Obama made a counter-offer to Republicans that included a major change in position on tax hikes for the wealthy, according to a source familiar with the talks.
* Knight Capital Group's board was split between two competing offers for the firm after a meeting on Monday where suitors Getco Holding Company LLC and Virtu Financial LLC presented their sweetened bids to Knight's directors, sources involved in the talks said.
* British inflation defied forecasts in November to hold at its highest rate since May, reducing the scope for the Bank of England to inject more cash into the struggling economy.
* Germany's government is considering cutting its forecast for growth in Europe's largest economy next year from its current estimate of 1 percent due to a weak half year over the winter, Deputy Economy Minister Bernhard Heitzer told Reuters.
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.26 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.40 percent
* European shares, were up
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 295.92; was up 0.13 percent
* Gold Futures : $1,699.3; up 0.06 percent
* US Crude : $87.70; up 0.54 percent
* Brent Crude : $108.23; up 0.55 percent
* LME 3-month Copper : $8,028.25; fell -0.43 percent
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* AuRico Gold Inc. : BMO resumes coverage with market perform rating, raises price target to C$9.50 from C$9, after the company completed the sale of its Ocampo project and announced a share buyback program
* First Majestic Silver : Raymond James cuts target price to C$26 from C$26.75 after the company said it would acquire Orko Silver Corp in a share and cash deal worth C$345 million
* Kirkland Lake Gold Inc. : CIBC cuts target to C$9 from C$15 citing the challenges at the company's Macassa operations and its greater-than-expected outlook cuts
* Primero Mining Corp. : RBC cuts target to $8.50 from $9 after the company said it would acquire Cerro Resources, giving it an element of growth in 2015
* Sun Life Financial Inc. : Canaccord Genuity cuts to sell rating on valuation while CIBC ups target to C$26 from C$25 after the company said it would sell its U.S. annuities business for $1.35 billion
* No Major Canadian economic data scheduled for release
* Major U.S. events and data includes Redbook, NAHB index and SEMI book/bill