TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index shook off three sessions of losses and rose sharply on Tuesday as energy company shares jumped and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX.TO) surged after bullish comments from the drugmaker's top executive.
The market was swayed by figures that showed the U.S. trade deficit dropped to its lowest level in four years in November as exports hit a record high and weak oil prices restrained import growth.
That bullish signal outweighed signs of a slowdown in the Chinese economy. A Reuters poll found China's annual economic growth likely slowed slightly in the fourth quarter.
"If you want to look at returns, you're going to have to go into the equity market," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod, who noted that investors were starting to favor stocks over fixed income.
"More and more people are starting to do that, and it's starting to pay off for them," he added. Returns for the Canadian equity market in 2014 are "likely to be positive but not runaway," he said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 101.39 points, or 0.75 percent, at 13,596.93. Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Valeant is looking to become one of the world's top five pharmaceutical companies by market capitalization by the end of 2016, Chief Executive Michael Pearson said on a conference call with analysts. The company also forecast that revenue and cash earnings for 2014 would increase by about 40 percent.
Valeant shares shot up 12.5 percent to C$135.03, helping push the index's healthcare sector up 5.4 percent.
In other corporate news, a battle for Australian dairy company Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Holdings Co WCB.AX raged on as local bidder Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co Ltd refused to concede to rival suitor Saputo Inc (SAP.TO), which has already secured regulatory approval to take over Warrnambool.
Saputo's stock gained 0.2 percent to C$48.75.
Editing by Peter Galloway