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Toronto's main stock index finished just off its session high Friday and notched its fourth straight monthly gain in a broad rally led by gold-mining and fertilizer shares.
The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 112.15 points, or 0.89 percent, to finish at 12,565.84. All of its 10 main groups rose, with a 1.3 percent gain in the hefty materials sector.
The price of bullion was up 1 percent, sending shares of Barrick Gold up 2.2 percent to $49.12, while Agnico-Eagle added 2.42 percent to $79.10.
Fertilizer producers Agrium and PotashCorp were also key gainers, helped by boosted share-price targets for both companies from brokerage UBS.
Additionally, investors were watching developments in the Potash takeover story. PotashCorp's home province of Saskatchewan ratcheted up pressure on the Canadian government to block BHP Billiton's hostile $39 billion US takeover bid, while the world's biggest fertilizer company insisted that rival bids could still emerge.
Shares of Potash rose 1.03 percent to $147.50 as the Canadian government must decide by midnight on Nov. 3 whether to approve or block BHP's bid. The share price has also been supported by strong commodity prices.
“We've seen a big move in every food-based commodity in the past few months and an increase in demand for fertilizers as well as an increase in prices, basically making BHP's offer...look tremendously low,'' said Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
“It looks like Potash is going to, in my opinion, continue as a standalone public company. If we are, as the company stated, at an inflection point for potash demand and prices, then it's probably best it stays a standalone public company.”
Toronto's main stock index had a seesaw week as investors reacted to earnings results, a volatile U.S. dollar and swings in commodity prices, while caution also prevailed ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve meetings next week, which could result in more monetary policy easing.
U.S. earnings have brightened the outlook for stocks, while Canadian earnings appear to be on the same path.
The index finished 0.6 percent higher on the week, and gained 2.5 percent in October, which has long been considered a treacherous month for equity markets. It has advanced about 12 percent in four months.
“October was more festive than scary, and stocks have now sailed through the toughest part of the calendar,” said Robert Kavcic, economist at BMO Capital Markets.
“While the Canadian results are still a tad premature, just 47 TSX companies have reported, the early results indicate that Q3 is tracking better than the prior quarter,'' he noted.
Next week's earnings slate includes blue chips such as Sun Life and Manulife in the financials group, and telecoms giants BCE and Telus. Also on tap are U.S. and Canadian employment data for October.