CANADA STOCKS-Valeant helps push TSX higher despite drop in oil shares

* TSX up 73.40 points, or 0.5 percent, at 14,804.90

* Eight of the 10 main index sectors advance

* Valeant climbs after increasing offer for Salix

TORONTO, March 16 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index jumped on Monday as a gain in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc helped overcome a drop in oil and gas shares spurred by lower crude prices.

The rise in drugmaker Valeant came after Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc agreed to Valeant’s increased takeover offer of $173 per share cash in a $10.96 billion deal.

Oil prices dropped again as global inventories climbed, with U.S. crude trading at a six-year low.

The gain in the Toronto stock market’s benchmark TSX index on Monday follows a 1.5 percent drop the previous week, when investors speculated the U.S. Federal Reserve might soon opt for an interest rate increase. The Fed is set to release a statement later this week.

“The TSX is holding up surprisingly well, given that crude oil is crashing,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. “The question is, will it be able to hold on to these gains?”

“Overall it’s a positive environment for stocks,” he added.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 73.40 points, or 0.5 percent, at 14,804.90. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.

Financials, the index’s most heavily weighted sector, added 0.8 percent. Bank of Nova Scotia climbed 0.9 percent to C$63.44, and Bank of Montreal rose 1 percent to C$76.77.

Shares of energy producers shed 2 percent, with Suncor Energy Inc losing 1.6 percent to C$34.78, and Canadian Natural Resources slipping 1.7 percent to C$35.86.

Valeant jumped 2.7 percent to C$259.12.

$1=$1.28 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway