* TSX rises 0.29 percent to 11,538.39
* Potash shares shoot up 5.7 pct on takeover speculation
* Bank of Canada rate decision on Tuesday (Adds details, updates to the close)
TORONTO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished higher on Monday, pushed up by speculation that Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO could be taken over, and by firmer commodity prices.
Shares of Potash rose more than 5 percent, leading all advancers, after a Bank of America Merrill Lynch research report touted the idea that mining giant BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L) could afford to make an all-cash bid for the world’s largest fertilizer maker. [ID:nN19132987]
Potash Corp ended up 5.7 percent at C$106.84.
Fellow fertilizer company Agrium AGU.TO gained 6.4 percent to C$58.90 after it agreed to sell part of a nitrogen fertilizer facility to Terra Industries TRA.N. [ID:nN19341430]
A drop in gold-mining issues partly offset the gains made by the fertilizer companies even though the price of gold pushed above $1,060 an ounce. Goldcorp (G.TO) fell 0.5 percent to C$43.80.
Oil hit a one-year high above $79 a barrel, lifting some of the bigger names in the oil and gas group, including a 1.15 percent gain for Nexen Inc NXY.TO to C$26.38 and a 0.45 percent gain in Suncor Energy (SU.TO) to C$40.16.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed up 33.63 points, or 0.29 percent, at 11,538.39.
The index’s gains came ahead of a Bank of Canada policy statement on Tuesday in which the bank will likely hold the line on interest rates and perhaps tinker with its economic forecasts as it waits for firmer evidence that economic recovery is for real. [ID:nN19366608]
“We have a lot of cross currents,” said Sal Masionis, stockbroker at Brant Securities, pointing to examples such as a relatively high unemployment rate, while the housing sector has shown signs of strength.
($1=$1.04 Canadian) (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway)