CANADA STOCKS-U.S. data, gold miners lift TSX to near six-year high

* TSX rises 78.56 points, or 0.55 percent, to 14,459.11
    * Eight of 10 main index sectors advance
    * Osisko soars on Yamana deal
    * Agrium slips after profit warning

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, April 2 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose
to a nearly six-year high on Wednesday, buoyed by U.S. economic
data and a rally in shares of gold miners after the price of
bullion advanced.
    Private-sector data showed U.S. companies picked up the pace
of hiring in March, suggesting the effects of harsh weather
might be starting to taper off and setting the stage for the
U.S. government's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, due out on
    The Toronto market climbed for a fourth straight session. It
is up about 6.2 percent this year and is one of the best
performers among major global indexes.
    "The economic data is robust enough to give investors
confidence and not strong enough that the Fed will aggressively
change its course," said Michael Newton, a director of wealth
management and portfolio manager at ScotiaMcLeod, referring to
the U.S. Federal Reserve's easy monetary policy.
    "There's a bit of rotation going on," he added. "Companies
and investors are positioned for the specter of higher interest
rates and therefore are doing now a bit of rebalancing in their
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed up 78.56 points, or 0.55 percent, at 14,459.11.
    "The TSX will probably surprise people," said Irwin Michael,
portfolio manager at ABC Funds, who has been increasing his
Canadian investments. "To my mind, the Canadian market will be a
sleeper this year."
    Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher on
    Shares of gold producers jumped 2.7 percent, with Barrick
Gold Corp rising 3.8 percent to C$20.49 and Goldcorp
Inc gaining 2 percent to C$27.61.
    Despite weakness in oil prices, shares of energy companies
advanced 1 percent. Suncor Energy Inc climbed 1.6
percent to C$39.23, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd 
added 1.9 percent to C$43.26. 
    In corporate news, Yamana Gold Inc said it will buy
a 50 percent stake in Osisko Mining Corp's mining and
exploration assets for C$930 million ($843 million) in a move to
block a hostile bid from Goldcorp. Osisko shares jumped 6.8
percent to C$7.35, while Yamana shed 2.4 percent to C$9.48.
    Agrium Inc said that a big backlog of grain
shipments on Canada's railways and a late start to spring
planting will hurt its first-quarter profits. Shares of the
fertilizer company gave back 1.4 percent to C$106.09.

 (Editing by Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler)