April 29 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index looked set to open higher, with investors encouraged by the formation of a coalition government in Italy that ended two months of political uncertainty in the troubled region.
* New Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta will seek the backing of parliament in a confidence vote, facing severe political and economic problems that will test the solidity of his coalition government in the months ahead.
* Confidence in the euro zone’s economy fell further in April, data showed, strengthening the case for a cut in interest rates this week by the European Central Bank.
* A proposed merger of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc and Actavis Inc was put on hold after the two drugmakers failed to agree on terms of a deal that would have created a healthcare giant with a combined market value of $35 billion, a person familiar with the situation told Reuters on Saturday.
* Germany’s Bayer AG has agreed to buy U.S. contraceptive devices maker Conceptus for $1.1 billion, aiming to underpin its position as the world’s largest women’s healthcare provider.
* BHP Billiton has agreed to sell its Pinto Valley copper mine and a railroad in Arizona to Capstone Mining Corp for $650 million, the latest in a spate of asset sales by the top global miner as it tightens its belt in a weaker market.
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.48 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.40 percent to 0.45 percent
* European shares, were up
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 286.8562; rose 0.33 percent
* Gold futures : $1,474.8; rose 1.46 percent
* US crude : $93.32; rose 0.34 percent
* Brent crude : $103.15; fell 0.01 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $7,116.75; rose 1.35 percent
* Imperial Oil Ltd : The oil company on Saturday said production is underway at its Kearl oil sands project in eastern Alberta, five months after the original target date for its biggest undertaking yet.
* Kinross Gold Corp : The gold miner is pushing ahead with plans to expand its Tasiast project in Mauritania with a feasibility study for a 38,000-tonne-per-day mill and said it expected the initial capital cost for the project to be about $2.7 billion.
* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc : The U.S. FDA said the anti-seizure drug developed by the company and co-marketed with GlaxoSmithKline Plc may cause eye and skin problems.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Barrick Gold Corp : HSBC cuts target price to $29 from $43 on lowered earnings estimates to reflect lower gold forecasts.
* Brookfield Office Properties Inc : Canaccord Genuity raises target price to $20.60 from $20 after the company reported in-line first-quarter funds from operations.
* Canadian Utilities : Canaccord Genuity raises target to C$80 from C$75 to reflect a more positive outlook on the current regulatory issues after the company reported in-line first-quarter results.
* Metro Inc : CIBC raises price target to C$67 from C$65 on valuation, says the company is a classic case of a well-managed, defensive stock with outstanding control over its business even in tough times.
* TransCanada Corp : Canaccord Genuity raises target price by C$1 to C$51 on valuation following first-quarter results given the company’s revised outlook on the timing of a U.S. Department of State decision for Keystone XL.
* No major Canadian economic data scheduled
* Major U.S. events and data includes personal income and spending, PCE price index, pending home sales and Dallas Fed manufacturing index data