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Toronto stock market stays higher after positive view of Canadian economy

David Friend, The Canadian Press

The fading name on the building in Toronto that used to house the Toronto Stock Exchange is pictured on August 18 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
The fading name on the building in Toronto that used to house the Toronto Stock Exchange is pictured on August 18 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market remained positive on Monday afternoon as new data about the Canadian economy and comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve gave investors reason to cheer.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 78.34 points to 14,339.06, while the Canadian dollar was at 90.51 cents US, rising 0.09 of a cent.

Statistics Canada reported the economy grew more than expected in January, with gross domestic product rising by 0.5 per cent, ahead of the forecast of 0.3 per cent growth.

Economists had expected the economy to rebound after declining 0.5 per cent in December, when bad weather affected much of the country.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen said she thinks the struggling U.S. job market will continue to need the help of low interest rates "for some time," part of a speech which provided a clearer roadmap for the year.

Her remarks come after investors have grown anxious that the Fed might raise short-term rates starting in mid-2015. Yellen has previously suggested that the Fed could start raising short-term rates six months after it halts its bond purchases, which most economists expect by year's end.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials added 135.82 points to 16,458.88, the Nasdaq lifted 45.22 points to 4,200.98 and the S&P 500 index rose 14.31 points to 1,871.93.

In commodities, the May crude oil contract fell 25 cents to $101.42, with the TSX energy sector 0.6 per cent higher.

Gold stocks were the biggest decliner as June bullion fell $10.50 to end the day at US$1,283.80 an ounce. May copper slipped 1.5 cents to US$3.03 a pound.

Nordion Inc. (TSX:NDN) was one of the most heavily traded company on the TSX following a friendly US$727-million takeover offer for the health sciences company on Friday. The stock was up about 11 per cent or $1.24 at C$12.76 with nearly five million shares exchanged by 2:30 p.m. ET.

In corporate developments, Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) has agreed to sell certain natural gas properties in Wyoming for about US$1.8 billion to an affiliate of TPG Capital.

The deal involves about 1,500 active wells in the Jonah field. Encana shares lost seven cents to $23.63.

Telus shares (TSX:T) dropped 45 cents to $39.90 after the company announced Darren Entwistle would be stepping aside as president and CEO of one of Canada's largest telecommunications companies. He'll be replaced by Telus veteran executive Joe Natale effective May 8, when the company has its shareholders meeting.

Canadian autoparts manufacturer Martinrea International Inc. (TSX:MRE) is looking for a new president and chief executive officer to replace Nick Orlando, who will remain in the position for now. The announcement came as Martinrea reported financial results for the year and fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 and said a special committee of its board has concluded its review of earlier public disclosures and determined there's no need to change earlier statements. Shares of Martinrea were up $1.20 or 13.7 per cent to $9.97.

In the United States, Johnson & Johnson shares rose one per cent after the company accepted an offer of about $4 billion from the private equity firm Carlyle Group to buy its Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics business.