Feb 25 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks looked set to open higher on Monday, tracking global markets, helped by speculation that the United States and Japan will offer ultra easy monetary policy for some time, but uncertainty about the outcome of the closely-fought election in Italy could keep a lid on gains.
* Sales of BlackBerry’s make-or-break line of smartphones are running faster than expected, and the company has increased production too keep up, its chief executive said in a newspaper.
* Suncor Energy Inc and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd : Shares of the two companies could gain more than 25 percent in the next year, helped by valuable asset bases that may attract activist investors, Barron’s said in its Feb. 25 edition.
* Italians voted for a second and final day in a general election on Monday with a surge in protest votes increasing the risk of an unstable outcome that could undermine Europe’s efforts to end its three-year debt crisis.
* Japan’s prime minister is likely to nominate an advocate of aggressive monetary easing - Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda - as the next central bank governor to step up his fight to finally rid the country of deflation.
* China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec), Asia’s largest oil refiner, will buy a 50 percent stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp’s Mississippi Lime oil and gas properties in Oklahoma and Kansas for $1.02 billion, a Sinopec source said.
* Canada stock futures traded up 0.69 percent
* U.S. stock futures , , were up around 0.45 percent to 0.82 percent
* European shares, were up
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 296.1689; rose 0.74 percent
* Gold futures : $1,591.6; rose 1.22 percent
* US crude : $94.19; rose 1.14 percent
* Brent crude : $115.64; rose 1.35 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $7,868.25; rose 0.86 percent
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Centerra Gold Inc : Canaccord Genuity cuts to hold from buy and cuts price target to C$7 from C$15 after an update on the Kyrgyz Republic Parliamentary Decree and new potential environmental charges that increase uncertainty surrounding the resolution of ownership terms at Kumtor.
* Conifex Timber Inc : RBC cuts to sector perform from outperform citing the company’s weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter results.
* Onex Corp : CIBC raises target to C$52.50 from C$45 on the company’s exposure to a U.S. recovery and a growing stream of fee earnings.
* Western Energy Services Corp : RBC raises target to C$12 from C$10 after the company announced the acquisition of IROC Energy Services Corp.
* MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd : CIBC raises target price to C$72 from C$66 on valuation to reflect several opportunities to improve utilization after the completion of the acquisition of Loral Space and Communications Inc’s manufacturing arm.
* No major Canadian economic data scheduled for release
* Major U.S. events and data includes Chicago Fed index and Dallas Fed mfg index