TSX rises for 3rd straight day on U.S. data, Viterra

Fri Mar 9, 2012 5:11pm EST
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By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index edged higher for a third day in a row on Friday, lifted by bullish U.S. employment data and takeover speculation at grain handler Viterra VT.TO.

Viterra led the broader index higher and finished the day up 23.7 percent at C$13.58. The Regina, Saskatchewan-based company, Canada's biggest grain handler, said it had received expressions of interest from unnamed third parties on a possible takeover.

Neo Material Technologies NEM.TO soared 37.3 percent to C$10.94 after Molycorp MCP.N said it would buy the rare-earth processing company for C$1.3 billion.

"You've seen in very recent weeks some nice pick-up in merger activity. Corporate balance sheets are finally healthy enough and the confidence level is high enough for people to actually make the moves," said Rick Meslin, head of Canadian equities at UBS.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the session up 41.69 points, or 0.33 percent, at 12,503.62, with nine of its 10 main sectors higher. The healthcare sector dropped 0.6 percent.

The index shed 1.1 percent for the week.

Other leading names on the upside in Toronto included Manulife Financial (MFC.TO: Quote), up 1.8 percent at C$12.22, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO: Quote), up half a percent at C$82.09. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO: Quote) also climbed 0.5 percent to C$53.61.

On the downside, Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) dropped 0.5 percent to C$45.45, and Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote), down nearly a half percent at C$46.90.   Continued...

A Bay Street sign is seen at the financial district in Toronto, October 10, 2008.   REUTERS/Mark Blinch