CANADA STOCKS-TSX closes above 12,000 on potash, base metals

Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:20pm EST
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* TSX rises 34.12 points, or 0.28 percent, to 12,013.82

* Potash stocks lead materials issues, energy weighs

* Index close is highest in nearly 18 months (Adds details, background)

By Cameron French

TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended higher on Friday, extending its recent surge, as rising shares of base metal miners and potash producers were offset by weakness among energy and gold issues.

Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote), one of the largest resource stocks on the index, shot 6.9 percent higher to C$128.03 after the world's largest fertilizer maker raised its first-quarter earnings forecast, citing a sharp rebound in demand for the key crop nutrient. [ID:nN11254666]

Agrium (AGU.TO: Quote), another potash producer, gained 7.5 percent to C$73.42 after it said it was abandoning its $5.4 billion bid for U.S. rival CF Industries (CF.N: Quote), ending a takeover attempt that had dragged on for more than a year.

The two stocks helped lead the TSX's materials sector up 1 percent.

Base metals miners were also stronger, led by Equinox Minerals EQN.TO, which gained 3.3 percent to C$3.75. Gold miners weighed on the sector, including Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote), which eased 1.9 percent to C$40.09.   Continued...