TORONTO - The Toronto stock market enjoyed a solid increase Monday as both the mining and health-care sectors found strength from two high-profile deals — one made official and the other later denied by the company involved.
The S&P/TSX composite index ended ahead 95.97 points at 14,908.39.
The Canadian dollar was down 0.59 of a U.S. cent at 78.78 cents.
Mining and metals stocks were one of the big movers, rising four per cent, on the back of a rumoured merger that was later denied.
Teck Resources Ltd. (TSX:TCK.B) shares closed 11 per cent higher as traders responded to a Bloomberg report that cited unidentified sources as saying the company was discussing a possible merger with Chilean copper miner Antofagasta.
After markets closed, Teck issued a statement denying it was in talks with Antofagasta about any form of a transaction.
Meanwhile, the lightly weighted health-care sector got a rare boost of seven per cent on the heels of a major deal between involving Illinois-based pharmacy benefits manager Catamaran Corp. (TSX:CCT), which trades in both the U.S. and Canada.
Health insurance company UnitedHealth Group reached an agreement to buy Catamaran for more than US$12 billion, which sent stock in Catamaran up 25 per cent or C$15.04 to $75.88 on the TSX.
Energy stocks also gained traction even as the May crude oil contract settled 19 cents lower at US$48.68 a barrel.
While traders have recently focused on the health of the U.S. economy and whether stocks are overvalued, Paul Vaillancourt, executive vice-president of private wealth at Fiera Capital, said he takes a positive view.
"A lot of people are so worried that the party is going to end that they're starting to take money off the table," he said in a phone interview from Calgary.
"We continue to be pro equity."
In the United States, a report from the Commerce Department said consumer spending edged up 0.1 per cent in February following two consecutive monthly declines.
Home sales were also encouraging, as they rose to the highest level since June 2013. The National Association of Realtors said the seasonally adjusted index of pending home sales rose 3.1 per cent in February, which could mean more sales activity in the spring.
The Dow Jones industrial average soared 263.65 points to 17,976.31, while the Nasdaq was up 56.22 points at 4,947.44 and the S&P 500 index advanced 25.22 points to 2,086.24.
Fresh comments from Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen suggested that a gradual hike of the Fed's key interest rate could happen later this year if the U.S. economy remains on track.
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