CANADA STOCKS-Deals help support TSX as Europe drags
* TSX rises 8.83 points to 12,145.77 * Seven of 10 sectors stronger By Claire Sibonney TORONTO, April 18 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index struggled for direction on Wednesday as fears of a resurgence in the euro zone debt crisis offset the positive impact of deals in the consumer staples, healthcare and mining sectors. Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc, which operates convenience store chains in Canada and the United States, surged 12 percent to C$38.38 after it struck a deal to buy Norwegian company Statoil Fuel and Retail ASA for 15.9 billion crowns ($2.8 billion). "Investors like the deal, they see something there in terms of a dramatic increase in earnings that could happen," said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services. "I'm always nervous when companies go out of their core competency, they know the North American economy they know how that works ... and then all of a sudden they announce this out-of-nowhere deal." SXC Health Solutions Corp rallied 7.8 percent to C$85.84 after it said it will buy rival U.S. pharmacy benefit manager Catalyst Health Solutions Inc for about $4.4 billion. Ivanhoe Mines jumped 11 percent to C$12.92 after its founder and Chief Executive Robert Friedland agreed to step down as part of a financing deal with its majority shareholder Rio Tinto that will help fund construction of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in Mongolia. At 10:40 a.m. (1440 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 8.83 points, or 0.07 percent at 12,145.77. Seven of the 10 sectors were firmer. In other company news, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc edged up 0.1 percent to C$54.48 after announcing it will buy certain assets from Atlantis Pharma, a branded generic pharmaceutical company, for about $71 million, to expand its footprint in Mexico. Canada's third-largest grocery store operator, Metro Inc , rose 1 percent to C$54.14 after reporting a higher quarterly profit as its majority-owned ethnic food retailer, Marché Adonis, boosted sales and margins. "Each and every day we get more confirmation that the North American economy is growing faster and stronger than some of the analysts are expecting. I feel really comfortable about the earnings for the rest of 2012 even with more punishing news out of Europe," added Schwartz. On the downside, overall risk sentiment was weak, following Wall Street's cue as investors digested the latest round of earnings, including reports from IBM and Intel. Confidence was also hit soft commodity prices and heavy falls in Spanish stocks and losses amid pressure from Spain's budget troubles and the potential repercussions for the euro zone. Some strategists said comments from European Central Bank policymaker Jens Weidmann that countries should not expect the central bank to tackle rising debt yields by buying government bonds prompted the weakness in stocks. Among the most influential laggards, Goldcorp Inc lost 1.6 percent to C$40.69, Canadian Natural Resources slipped 1.4 percent to C$32.16 and Barrick Gold fell 0.5 percent to C$40.74.
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