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Commodities drive TSX to positive finish

TORONTO - Strength in commodities prices propelled the Toronto stock market to a positive finish Monday, with help from broad gains across nearly all of its sectors.

TORONTO - Strength in commodities prices propelled the Toronto stock market to a positive finish Monday, with help from broad gains across nearly all of its sectors.

The S&P/TSX composite index added 69.95 points to 12,234.51, while the TSX Venture Exchange gained 24.43 points to 1,686.39.

The TSX gold sector ended higher after December bullion hit another record, closing up $3.30 at US$1,280.80 an ounce in New York. The price of the precious metal soared last week as well, when it set three all-time highs.

Crude oil, a big influence on the Toronto Stock Exchange, was up $1.20 at US$74.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the TSX energy sector rose 0.7 per cent.

Sector heavyweight Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE) said preliminary groundwork to expand production its Foster Creek oilsands property would begin soon after getting regulatory approval. Each of three planned phases is designed to expand bitumen production by 30,000 barrels a day. Cenovus shares moved up 52 cents to C$28.41.

The metals and mining sector gained 2.2 per cent even as Teck Resources Ltd. (TSX:TCK.B) lowered its coal sales guidance Monday by roughly 10 per cent for the third quarter due to capacity problems at Westshore Terminals (TSX:WTE.UN). Teck stock backed off 22 cents to $39.10.

The Canadian dollar lifted 0.19 of a cent to 97.15 cents US.

"As the price of oil goes up, as well as other commodities, you expect the Canadian dollar to be a little bit stronger, and as it's a little bit stronger there's flows of funds coming into the Canadian markets as well," said Don Reed, president and CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments Corp.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 158.79 points to 10,753.62. The Nasdaq composite index was up 40.22 points at 2,355.83, while the S&P 500 moved ahead 17.12 points to 1,142.71.

Adding an optimistic note to trading Monday in New York was IBM's (NYSE:IBM) agreement to buy data storage company Netezza Corp. for about US$1.7 billion in cash, a 10 per cent premium over the company's closing share price Friday.

Investors were also encouraged by an announcement from a group of economists declaring that the most recent recession ended in June 2009.

As well, there is a growing expectation that the Federal Reserve Board's rate-setting committee could relaunch programs to buy Treasurys and mortgage bonds in an effort to further stimulate the struggling U.s. economy. At the very least, it might hint at future plans to make such moves following its one-day meeting Tuesday.

On the down side, the U.S. National Association of Home Builders said that confidence in the housing market stayed at the lowest level in 18 months in September, with more home builders worried that the traffic of potential buyers is falling.

Meanwhile, TSX technology stocks were up 1.2 per cent with Open Text Corp. (TSX:OTC) rising 5.8 per cent to C$$48.45.

There were also reports that China is close to a decision on whether it will bid against BHP Billiton's US$38.6-billion hostile offer for Saskatchewan fertilizer powerhouse PotashCorp (TSX:POT). PotashCorp shares were up 94 cents or 0.6 per cent atr C$152.53, or the equivalent of about US$148, well above BHP's US$130 per share offer.

The CEO of BHP Billiton said the company will spend "billions of dollars" to advance its Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan whatever the outcome of its US$38-billion bid to acquire PotashCorp.

TMX Group (TSX:X), parent of the TSX and TSX Venture Exchange, says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with its counterpart in Norway — the Oslo Bors ASA — to explore numerous opportunities. That agreement could include marketing initiatives and possibly the dual listing of stocks on each other's exchanges. TMX Group shares lifted 23 cents to $29.90.

Western Potash Corp. (TSXV:WPX) stock declined more than 11 per cent despite reporting a "robust" preliminary economic assessment at its 100 per cent owned Milestone property in southern Saskatchewan. Shares tumbled 11 cents to 66 cents.

In economic data, Statistics Canada said non-residents added $5.5 billion of Canadian securities to their portfolios in July, on par with the amount acquired in June.

In earnings, credit card company Discover Financial Inc. said its third-quarter net income attributable to common stockholders was US$258.2 million, or 47 cents per share. That compares with $552.9 million, or $1.07 cents per share, last year, which included a $287 million legal settlement related to antitrust litigation with Visa and MasterCard.

 
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