Canadian stocks advanced, led by technology shares, as Research In Motion Ltd. surged after Lenovo Group Ltd. (992) said it’s considering a deal with the BlackBerry maker.
RIM jumped 3 percent as Lenovo assessed potential acquisition targets and strategic alliances. Encana Corp. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. rose at least 1.6 percent, pacing gains in energy shares, as oil rallied from a one-week low. Agrium Inc. (AGU), operator of the largest U.S. network of agricultural retail outlets, added 2.8 percent after reporting fourth-quarter profit that exceeded estimates.
The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index added 27.13 points, or 0.2 percent, to 12,821.18 at 1:47 p.m. in Toronto. Trading volume was 22 percent above the 30-day average. The S&P 500 briefly rose above 1,500 for the first time since 2007.
“There’s a lot of green so far,” said John Kinsey, who helps manage about C$1 billion of assets at Caldwell Securities Ltd. in Toronto. “People are feeling that 2013 might be a little better year than 2012, and the markets are creeping up a little bit every day.”
The S&P/TSX has risen 3.2 percent so far this year amid optimism the global economy is recovering. Technology and health-care companies have led the rally, increasing more than 9.8 percent. Consumer staples stocks have fallen 0.5 percent for the biggest decline among 10 groups in the measure.
American economic data also helped lift the market today. Claims for jobless benefits in the world’s largest economy unexpectedly dropped to a five-year low. The index of American leading indicators rose in December by the most in three months.
“The U.S. coughs, we get pneumonia,” said Chyanne Fickes, a fund manager at Toronto-based Stone Asset Management Ltd., which manages C$700 million. “Given the jobless claims being better, that backs up better growth down the road for the United States, which bodes well for Canada.”
Technology and health-care shares had the biggest gains in the S&P/TSX today among 10 groups, advancing at least 1.3 percent. Raw-material and utility companies fell.
RIM (RIM) rallied 3 percent to C$17.81, poised for the highest closing price since 2011. The shares have risen 51 percent so far this year. RIM began a review of its strategic options last year after losing market share to smartphones such as Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy, raising speculation that it could be a takeover target.
Earlier today, RIM dropped as much as 5.4 percent after rival Apple posted its slowest profit growth in a decade.
Energy shares rose as oil climbed amid a narrowing spread between West Texas Intermediate crude in the U.S. and London’s Brent. Encana added 1.6 percent to C$19.65. Canadian Natural Resources rose 1.9 percent to C$30.74.
Methanex Corp. (MEOH) rallied 7.9 percent to C$34.80. The company announced a 10-year natural gas supply agreement with Chesapeake Energy Corp. Separately, the shares were raised to outperform from market perform at Raymond James Financial Inc. by equity analyst Steven Hansen.
Agrium advanced 2.8 percent to C$113.88. Fourth-quarter profit excluding one-time items was “slightly above” $2 a share, buoyed by demand for crop nutrients, Calgary-based Agrium said today in a statement. Agrium was expected to earn $1.71 a share, the average of 22 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. In November the company, which also produces potash and nitrogen-based fertilizer, forecast $1.50 to $1.90 a share.
The company plans to release its full fourth-quarter results on Feb. 22, according to the statement.
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