TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed higher on Monday, helped by gains in the energy sector and a 14 percent jump in BlackBerry (BB.TO) shares on takeover speculation and U.S. market launch plans.
BlackBerry shares gained after U.S. wireless carrier AT&T Inc (T.N) said it would start selling the highly anticipated BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen smartphone to customers by March 22, with early sales of the devices to begin on Tuesday.
Comments from the head of China's Lenovo Group Ltd (0992.HK), who said the personal computer maker might consider an acquisition of Canada's BlackBerry in the future, also fueled the gains.
"Hope springs eternal that it's going to be the turnaround story," said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
"It's a typical momentum stock, and right now the mo' is going on the upside."
BlackBerry's stock climbed to C$15.29, helping the information technology sector rise 3.7 percent.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE unofficially closed up 22.88 points, or 0.18 percent, at 12,858.49. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
The energy sector gained 0.3 percent. Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO), Canada's largest energy company, was up 0.4 percent to C$31.58.
Financials, the index's weightiest sector, added 0.2 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO up 0.4 percent at C$62.65.
Investors also tracked data from China that showed inflation at a 10-month high in February, and that factory output and consumer spending were weaker than forecast. Imports were also surprisingly weak, falling 15.2 percent from a year earlier to 13-month lows and highlighting vulnerability in the economy.
"With weaker imports, that's a reflection that perhaps they're entering into a stage of destocking, or the economic activity continues to moderate," said Philip Petursson, managing director, portfolio advisory group, at Manulife Asset Management.
"The marginal demand for commodities comes from China," he added. "If we start to see that demand slow down, that will have a negative impact on commodity prices and, as such, a negative impact on commodity producers."
In company news, Aeterna Zentaris Inc AEZ.TO said it would discontinue a late-stage trial of a cancer drug after an independent data safety monitoring committee said the drug was unlikely to help increase patient survival. The drugmaker's stock fell 22 percent to C$2.09.
Additional reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Kenneth Barry