CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 4-week high, Equinox surges on bid
* TSX ends session up 0.62 pct at 14,218.35
* Equinox up 32.22 pct on Chinese takeover bid
* Seven sectors advance, led by 2.08 pct rise in materials (Adds details, analysts' comments)
By John McCrank
TORONTO, April 4 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index rose to a four-week high on Monday as a new wave of takeover bids boosted mining shares and rising oil prices benefited energy producers.
Shares of Equinox Minerals EQN.TO surged 32.22 percent to C$7.55 after Minmetals Resources (1208.HK: Quote), China's biggest metals trading company, made a surprise C$6.3 billion offer to buy the company for its copper assets. [ID:nL3E7F30DI]
New Gold NGD.TO fell 3.82 percent to C$10.83 after the mid-sized gold miner said it will acquire gold exploration company Richfield Ventures RVC.V in a friendly all-stock deal valued at C$550 million. [ID:nN04239951]
"Merger fever is in the air," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver. The takeover offers for Canadian mining companies added to other deals in the works offshore and spurred hopes for an expanding merger and acquisition market this year. [ID:nN01283917] [MRG] [MKTS/GLOB]
The mining-heavy materials group rose 2.08 percent, with First Quantum Minerals FM.TO gaining 5.83 percent to C$137.45, while Teck Resources TCKb.TO rose 7.51 percent to C$55.10.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended up 88.20 points, or 0.62 percent, at 14,218.35, rising for a fifth-straight session. It was the highest close since March 4.
Seven of the index's 10 main groups were higher, led by the materials and energy groups, which together make up around 50 percent of the total index.
Energy issues rose 0.48 percent, with Imperial Oil gaining 1.15 percent to C$C$51.23, and Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) up 0.96 percent at C$44.03.
Oil prices rose to their highest point since 2008, with Brent crude above $121 a barrel. U.S. crude rose above $108 as unrest in the Middle East and North Africa kept the focus on oil supplies. [O/R]
An improving macroeconomic backdrop for global growth also helped sentiment, particularly after Friday's healthy U.S. jobs data, which sent copper and other commodities higher. [MET/L]
Not long ago, market players were concerned that rising oil prices might stunt the economic recovery, but those concerns have faded, said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada in Toronto.
"Whenever there are Middle East problems ... the supply disruptions more than offset any so-called slowdown fears," he said.
In other market news, shares of Westport Innovations Inc WPT.TO, which develops technology and products to allow diesel engines to run on natural gas, rose 7.85 percent to a new high of C$25.01 on hopes that rich, new subsidies could be in the offing for natural gas-powered vehicles in the United States.[ID:nN04252403]
And TMX Group Inc (X.TO: Quote), owner of the Toronto Stock Exchange, said it will put forward a formal submission to Canadian regulators in "coming weeks" regarding its proposed takeover by London Stock Exchange (LSE.L: Quote). [ID:nN04266784]
TMX group rose 0.54 percent to C$39.29.
($1=$0.97 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway)
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