March 13 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open slightly higher on Wednesday, helped by a rise in prices for commodities including gold, copper and U.S. oil.
* Output at euro zone factories fell more than expected at the start of 2013 and production in France and Germany slipped in the latest sign the bloc is struggling to emerge from recession.
* Italy’s three-year borrowing costs rose to their highest since December after Fitch cut its credit rating last week, but the country also managed to sell the top planned amount of a new 15-year bond.
* Transcontinental Inc reported a 5 percent rise in first-quarter adjusted profit, helped by the acquisition of Quad/Graphics Canada Inc.
* Air Canada won a seven-year extension on Tuesday of the cap on special payments to erase its sizeable pension fund deficit, over the objection of its smaller rivals, but will have to make higher payments than it originally requested and abide by certain conditions.
* The U.S. government is investigating top global miner BHP Billiton Ltd for possible corrupt practices, the company confirmed, after media reports said it was being probed for its sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.04 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were down around 0.2 percent
* European shares, were down
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 296.3962; rose 0.07 percent
* Gold futures : $1,595.84; up 0.3 percent
* US crude : $92.76; rose 0.24 percent
* Brent crude : $109.25; fell 0.36 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $7,833; rose 0.04 percent
* Alamos Gold Inc : CEO John McCluskey said the company was likely to walk away from a bid to buy Aurizon Mines Ltd if it loses a regulatory ruling on the merits of a poison pill adopted by Aurizon and the break fee committed to rival bidder Hecla Mining Co.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Air Canada : CIBC raises target to C$4.00 from C$3.00 on the company’s pension moratorium extension for seven additional years, says this will improve its cash flow visibility and generation.
* Altus Group Ltd : CIBC raises target to C$9.25 from C$9 on valuation after the company reported in-line fourth-quarter results, expects restructuring to provide cost efficiencies.
* Great-West Lifeco : CIBC raises to sector performer from sector underperformer after the company’s financially attractive acquisition of Irish Life Group.
* Rocky Mountain Dealerships : CIBC ups target to C$17 from C$16, citing continued strength in new equipment sales after the company posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter revenues and strong same-store sales.
* Total Energy Services : RBC ups target to C$16.50 from C$16 on valuation following the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call, says cash position is strong in 2013/14 and expects steady activity from contract drilling and rentals.
* No major Canadian economic data scheduled for release
* Major U.S. events and data includes the Federal Reserve budget meeting, retail sales and business inventories