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TSX advances amid strong U.S. retail sales, acquisitions in resource sector

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market was higher Monday amid a strong reading on U.S. retail sales.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 26.74 points to 14,284.43 with gains led by mining stocks amid major deal-making in the resource sector.

The Canadian dollar advanced 0.22 of a cent to 91.3 cents US.

U.S. indexes also found a lift from Citigroup earnings that beat expectations.

The Dow Jones industrials jumped 146.49 points to 16,173.24 as the bank reported adjusted earnings of $1.30 a share, 16 cents higher than expectations and its shares ran ahead 4.36 per cent in New York.

U.S. retail sales rose 1.1 per cent in March, the best showing since September 2012. The government also revised February to a 0.7 per cent gain, more than double its previous estimate. Sales had fallen in January and December amid severe winter weather.

"I guess now we’ll get the true colours of the economy, won't we?" said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at 3MACS.

"There’s not going to be any excuses about weather."

The Nasdaq was 22.96 points higher at 4,022.69 while the S&P 500 index rose 14.92 points to 1,830.61.

Despite the positive showing, traders are cautious amid concerns about stock valuations, Chinese growth prospects and corporate earnings.

Meanwhile, financial analysts expect earnings for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 to drop 1.6 per cent from a year earlier, according to FactSet, a financial data provider. That was a reversal from the start of the year, when they expected a jump of 4.3 per cent.

"I mean, you have expectations pretty low," Nakamoto said.

The TSX base metals sector led advancers, up 1.79 per cent as May copper rose a penny to US$3.05 a pound and Sherritt International (TSX:S) ran up 40 cents or 9.3 per cent to C$4.70.

Mining giant Glencore Xstrata said it was selling its Las Bambas copper project in Peru to a group of Chinese state-owned companies for US$5.85 billion. The purchase adds to a multibillion-dollar string of foreign acquisitions by China’s government-owned energy and mining companies, which hope to profit from future demand.

Glencore Xstrata is also buying Caracal Energy Inc. (LSE:CRCL), which has terminated plans to merge with Calgary-based TransGlobe Energy (TSX:TGL) as a result. TransGlobe said it would distribute the break fee it receives from Caracal to shareholders through a special dividend of 10 cents per share. TransGlobe shares gained 23 cents to C$8.12.

And Texas-based Stabilis Energy says it signed an agreement to buy substantially all the liquefied natural gas business of a subsidiary of Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA). Financial terms of the deal involving Encana Natural Gas Inc. weren't disclosed. Encana shares climbed 13 cents to $24.78.

On Canada's West Coast, the residents of Kitimat, B.C. have voted against Enbridge's (TSX:ENB) proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project in a non-binding plebiscite by a vote of 1,793 to 1,278. The federal cabinet is expected to release its decision on Northern Gateway by June. Enbridge slipped 41 cents to $50.76.

The gold sector improved by about 1.18 per cent as June bullion gained $8.50 to US$1,327.50 an ounce.

The energy sector was ahead 0.37 per cent with May crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange up 31 cents to a six-week high of US$104.65 a barrel.

The TSX finished well off session highs amid weakness in telecom and utilities stocks.

The Canadian Press


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