CANADA STOCKS-TSX jumps as BCE, Talisman fuel takeover action
* TSX ends up 79.25 points, or 0.52 pct, at 15,394.38 * Shares of Bell Aliant, Talisman lead the way (Adds strategist's comment, details, updates prices to close) By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, July 23 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose on Wednesday with oil company Talisman Energy Inc soaring on an approach from Spain's Repsol about a possible deal, while telecom BCE Inc said it wants to buy all the shares in regional affiliate Bell Aliant Inc that it doesn't already own. The stock reaction - Talisman jumped 13.3 percent to C$11.97 and Bell Aliant surged 11.9 percent to C$31.53 - pushed the Toronto stock market's benchmark index to its fifth record high in the last six sessions. "It seems like the markets are looking for reasons to go up, more so than looking for excuses to go down," said Shailesh Kshatriya, a strategist focused on Canadian markets at Russell Investments. Oil and gas shares rose broadly during the session after Talisman said it had been approached by Spanish oil company Repsol SA about potential deals. Bell Aliant, in which BCE already holds a 44 percent stake, jumped above the C$31 a share that BCE has offered for the rest of its Atlantic Canada affiliate. Shares of BCE, which said it would pay C$3.95 billion ($3.68 billion) to take Bell Aliant private, rose 1.7 percent to C$49.82. Regional telecom Manitoba Telecom Services gained 1.7 percent to C$31.74 on bets that it too could become a target. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 79.25 points, or 0.52 percent, at 15,394.38. The day's high was 15,395.74. The Canadian index has hit a series of record highs over the last few weeks but has been slower hitting new highs than its U.S. peers, despite a strong performance by energy companies. Royal Bank of Canada analysts wrote in a strategy outlook late on Tuesday that as economic growth strengthens and as interest rates eventually rise, Canadian financial, technology and resource stocks should benefit, while real estate and energy infrastructure companies could suffer. "We've had a rotating correction. Financials stalled for a long time and have taken over here in the last month as the energy stocks, which had a pretty good run there, backed off," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets. "I would say on balance, that's why we're grinding slightly higher. It's not as if it's straight up, but certain groups have had weeks or months of real outperformance." ($1=$1.07 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway)
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