CANADA STOCKS-TSX nears three-year high after Canadian Natural deal

Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:41am EST
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* TSX rises 73.94 points, or 0.53 percent, to 14,151.41
    * Six of 10 main index sectors advance
    * Canadian Natural jumps 4.6 percent after acquisition move
    * Sherritt drops after posting loss, cutting dividend

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index hit
its highest in almost 3 years on Wednesday as Canadian Natural
Resources Ltd jumped after the company said it would
acquire some natural gas assets, offsetting weak economic data
from the United States.
    Devon Energy Corp said it would sell some
liquids-rich natural gas assets to Canadian Natural, Canada's
No. 1 independent oil producer, for about $2.8 billion, a move
that helped lift shares across the energy sector.
    Data showing that U.S. housing starts recorded their biggest
drop in almost three years in January failed to dent the
positive mood. 
    The Toronto market recorded its 11th straight daily gain,
helped by a rebound in investor sentiment and a pickup in the
natural resource sectors.
    "The sentiment for equities is pretty good," said Matt
Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management. "But you're going to
see more volatility this year as markets in the developed world
have clearly become fully priced."
    "The Canadian Natural deal has given people confidence in
the oil patch," he added. "With one of the smartest operators
making a significant acquisition, it gives a lot of credibility
to pricing going forward."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was up 73.94 points, or 0.53 percent, at 14,151.41.
    Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
    Shares of energy companies climbed 0.9 percent. Canadian
Natural's 4.6 percent jump, to C$40.98, was the highlight in the
group. Suncor Energy Inc added 0.6 percent to C$36.83.
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, gained
0.9 percent. Potash Corp rose 1.3 percent to C$37.26,
and Barrick Gold Corp climbed 1.9 percent to C$22.93.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector,
advanced 0.6 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada adding
0.6 percent to C$71.87.
    In other company news, Sherritt International Corp 
posted a quarterly loss and slashed its quarterly dividend. The
stock shed 9 percent to C$3.12.