March 12, 2010 / 4:06 PM / 8 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-Potash Corp, Agrium help push TSX higher

 * TSX up 27.65 points, or 0.23 percent, at 12,007.35
 * Potash Corp jumps 5.5 pct after raising forecast
 * Canada jobs data boosts investor sentiment  (Adds details, quote)
 By Jennifer Kwan
 TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index rose on Friday morning as materials issues climbed on steady base metals prices, while shares of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) jumped after it raised its earnings forecast.
 Potash shot 5.5 percent higher to C$126.29 after the world’s largest fertilizer maker raised its first-quarter forecast on Thursday, citing a sharp rebound in demand for potash -- a key crop nutrient. [ID:nN11254666]
 The materials group, home to miners and fertilizer companies, gained nearly 1 percent, with Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) up 6.8 percent at C$72.94. Agrium said it is abandoning its $5.4 billion bid for U.S. rival CF Industries (CF.N), ending a drawn-out takeover battle.[ID:nN11199837]
 The rise in Potash and Agrium shares helped the Toronto market outperform other markets around the world in early trade on Friday, said Francis Campeau, broker at MF Global Canada, in Montreal.
 Focus will be on whether the TSX index has enough momentum to push through the year high of 12,070.74 reached in January, he said.
 “We’re right at key technical resistance. We’re basically testing the year high,” he said.
 At 10:39 a.m. (1539 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 27.65 points, or 0.23 percent, at 12,007.35.
 The oil and gas group added 0.2 percent as oil held at around $82.40 a barrel, supported by a softer U.S. dollar and bullish U.S. retail sales data. [O/R] Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) rose 0.3 percent to C$75.38.
 Campeau said investors were somewhat reassured by data that showed Canada’s unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent in February from 8.3 percent in January as 20,900 more people found work in the month. [ID:nN12253705]
 Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast net job growth of 20,000 jobs in February and an 8.3 percent unemployment rate. ECONCA
 ($1=$1.02 Canadian)  (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)                                       

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