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TSX ends sharply higher on Valeant, U.S. data

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Toronto's main stock index rose broadly on Wednesday after encouraging U.S. jobs data and an unsolicited bid by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX-T) to buy Cephalon Inc. (CEPH-Q) lifted market sentiment.

The Toronto index's healthcare group—the smallest of its main 10 sectors—was up 3.5 percent.

"Any time you see an aggressive acquisition like that it leads to more confidence, so today I'd say broad-based gains are mostly due to positive data and improving confidence," said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Van Arbor Asset Management in Vancouver.

U.S. private employers added more than 200,000 jobs in March while planned layoffs fell, underscoring expectations that momentum in the labor market will underpin the economic recovery. Investors are looking ahead to Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for further detail on this. [

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 153.23 points, or 1.1 percent, at 14,083.58.

All 10 of the index's main groups were stronger.

Zohny said the index's ability to hold above the 50-day moving average of 13,700 is a positive sign, as is month-end and quarter-end buying.

"The fact that the market has been able to weather a bit of a storm this month and has been fairly resilient is definitely attracting new flows into equities," he said.

The materials group, home to miners and fertilizer companies, was up 1.7 percent, while oil and gas companies added 0.7 percent.

Among the biggest gainers, were Barrick Gold (ABX-T), Potash Corp (POT-T) climbed and Teck Resources (TCK.B.T)

In other mergers and acquisitions news, Lundin Mining (LUN-T) and Inmet Mining (IMN-T) also ended the day higher.

The two companies scrapped a merger plan, and Lundin was hunting for a bidder to trump a $4.4 billion takeover offer from Equinox Minerals. Gavin Graham, president of

Graham Investment Strategy, said the recent deals activity in the market is a sign of increased corporate confidence.

"Cash is cheap with interest rates being very low, management's feeling a lot more confident than they were even a year ago," he said.

Economically sensitive financial shares were up 1.1 percent. National Bank of Canada (NA-T) shares hit a record high earlier in the session, after its chief executive announced he was mulling a stock split.

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