* TSX up 49.74 points, or 0.4 pct, at 12,505.56
* Astral soars 33 pct on takeover by BCE
* Five of 10 main sectors higher
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, March 16 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index extended gains on Friday, as shares of Astral Media soared on news BCE Inc will buy the media company.
The parent of Bell Canada said on Friday it has agreed to acquire Astral in a deal that values the television and radio company at C$3.38 billion, including debt. Shares of Astral jumped 33.60 percent to C$48.43. BCE fell 0.4 percent to C$39.90.
“It obviously puts a little bit of buying interest into the market because when you get a takeover bid in one area or sector you wonder is this a takeover fever that is rebuilding. There is money around,” Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
“It does show the interest is there and the trend is there.”
Viterra is also the focus of buyout talk with Swiss trading house Glencore planning a three-way carve-up of Canada’s biggest grain handler with privately owned Richardson International and fertilizer producer Agrium, according to an industry source.
Viterra stock shed half a percent to C$16.01, after surging on takeover speculation in the past week.
Around 10:20 a.m. (1420 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 49.74 points, or 0.4 percent, at 12,505.56, with half of its 10 main sectors higher.
Groups leading the gains included the financial and energy sectors, up 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent respectively. Toronto-Dominion Bank climbed 0.3 percent to C$83.64 and Royal Bank of Canada rose 0.4 percent to C$58.43. Suncor Energy edged 1 percent higher to C$33.23.
Ketchen said the financial sector saw big moves as this week marks the quarterly expiration and settlement of March equity futures and options, or “quadruple witching,” which could increase volume and volatility.
“We’ve got huge volume and all of the major banks are higher today,” he said.