CANADA STOCKS-TSX closes at highest level since July 2008

Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:59pm EST
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   *TSX ends up 84.37 points, or 0.6 percent, at 14,136.50
 * Eight of 10 main groups higher
 * Lundin Mining ends up 18.6 pct on takeover offer
 (Updates to market close, adds comments)
 By John McCrank
 TORONTO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
rallied to its highest close since July 2008 on Monday, spurred
by better-than-expected economic growth last quarter and a
C$4.8 billion ($4.9 billion) takeover bid for Lundin Mining
 Statistics Canada said surging exports helped kick-start
the economy in the quarter after a bout of sluggish growth. The
data supported market expectations that the Bank of Canada will
resume hiking interest rates before mid-year. [ID:nN28244249]
 "The Canadian GDP numbers for the fourth quarter were a lot
stronger than people had anticipated," said Irwin Michael,
portfolio manager at ABC Funds in Toronto. "I think it's quite
good for Canada in that unemployment will start firming up
meaningfully here."
 The index's mining-heavy materials group rose 0.93 percent,
with Lundin surging 18.6 percent to C$7.65 after Australia's
Equinox Minerals EQN.TO made an offer to buy the base-metals
miner. The move could trigger a bidding war with Inmet Mining
 IMN.TO, which has a merger agreement with Lundin.
 Equinox shares ended down 8.61 percent at C$5.73. Inmet
Mining was off 0.73 percent at C$66.81.
 Also in the materials sector, copper-producer First Quantum
Minerals FM.TO rose 8.68 percent to C$126.50.
 The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
.GSPTSE ended up 84.37 points, or 0.6 percent, at 14,136.50.
Eight of the index's 10 main sectors were in positive
 The index weakened late in the session before being buoyed
by a spate of last-minute buying.
 "The market is saw-toothing its way up," Michael said. "We
wouldn't be surprised if the market is perhaps a little bit
overbought in the short run, but there's a lot of money out
there and investors tend to like buying on the dips, and this
is what's going on, so on balance we remain optimistic."
 Fertilizer producer Potash Corp POT.TO rose for a fourth
consecutive day, up 1.68 percent at C$59.86, with Gleacher & Co
the latest firm to raise its rating on the fertilizer giant.
 The energy group, which makes up about a quarter of the
index, was up 1.11 percent. Baytex Energy BTE_u.TO rose 1.36
percent to C$55.85, while Nexen NXY.TO was up 2.71 percent at
 Market sentiment had been gloomy as violent unrest in North
Africa sparked worries that the protests would spread to other
parts of the region and that surging oil prices could crimp
global economic recovery. Reassurances from Saudi Arabia late
last week soothed some of the supply worries and reined in
crude prices. [O/R]
 Shares of SNC-Lavalin SNC.TO ended down 1.47 percent at
C$56.24 on the strife in the Middle East and Africa, where the
engineering and construction company generates a quarter of its
revenue. [ID:nN28266013]
 Separately, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement
System said on Monday it is working with SNC on a bid to buy
the commercial reactor business of Canada's nuclear agency.
 ($1=$0.97 Canadian)
 (Additional reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Peter