* TSX up 52.44 points, or 0.45 percent, at 11,781.08
* Potash rises 3 pct; BHP to take offer to shareholders
* Strong gold miners help push TSX higher (Updates to close, adds details)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended higher on Wednesday as investors hoped for a higher bid for takeover target Potash Corp POT.TO, while gold miners also rose.
Investors continued to fixate on developments in BHP Billiton’s BHP.AX BLT.L $39 billion offer for Potash Corp POT.TO. BHP said it would take its $130-a-share bid directly to shareholders, bypassing Potash Corp’s board, which a day earlier called the bid “grossly inadequate”. [ID:nSGE67H031] [ID:nN22340110]
Potash Corp shares gained 3 percent to C$151.75, helping the materials sector climb 1.9 percent. On Tuesday, Potash soared 26 percent.
“They’re betting on either BHP raising their offer or another competitor coming in and competing for Potash,” Aaron Fennell, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock Canada, said of investor reaction to the news.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE capped the day up 52.44 points, or 0.45 percent, at 11,781.08, with eight of its 10 main groups higher.
Gold stocks helped boost the resource-heavy index, with Barrick Gold ABX.TO up 1.4 percent at C$46.50, while Goldcorp G.TO rose 3.9 percent to C$43.92. Agnico-Eagle AEM.TO advanced 1.3 percent to C$64.89.
The price of gold rose to a 1-1/2 month high after being lower early in the day, extending its rally to a fifth session on strong physical demand and technical buying. [GOL/]
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson