TORONTO _ A major deal in the Canadian gold sector kept the Toronto stock market in positive territory on Wednesday morning while U.S. investors reconsidered the outlook on interest rates.
Toronto's S&P/TSX composite index lifted 30.17 points to 14,410.72 in the morning, driven by the gold sector.
The Canadian dollar climbed 0.02 of a cent at 90.67 cents US.
Mining heavyweight Yamana Gold Inc. (TSX: T.YRI, Stock Forum) has reached an agreement to take a 50 per cent stake in the mining and exploration assets of Osisko Mining Corp. (TSX: T.OSK, Stock Forum)..
The offer implies Osisko is worth about $3.4 billion and its shares jumped 7.6 per cent to $7.40, while Yamana shares gained 1.9 per cent to $9.89 on the TSX.
On Wall Street, markets briefly turned negative as investors weighed if new data on U.S. jobs figures could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates earlier than anticipated.
A survey from payroll processor ADP said that U.S. companies hired at a faster clip in March. Private employers added 191,000 jobs in March, another positive sign for the jobs market ahead of non-farm payrolls due on Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrials recovered from the early weakness, rising 12.39 points to 16,545 while the Nasdaq gained 2.39 points to 4,270.43. The S&P 500 index lifted 1.26 points to 1,886.78.
``(The ADP report) has ... shifted speculation back toward a more hawkish Fed that could start to raise interest rates sooner rather than later after tapering ends later this year,'' said Colin Cieszynski, senior markets analyst at CMC Markets, in a note to investors.
``It's also important for traders to note that the Fed will likely need to move on rates before reaching full employment.''
On commodity markets, copper prices jumped in the wake of the a magnitude-8.2 earthquake that struck the northern coast of Chile, a major producer of the metal. May copper was up 2.4 cents at US$3.06 a pound.
Crude continued to trade below US$100 per barrel. Oil for May delivery traded Wednesday morning at US$99.27, down 47 cents.
The June gold contract gained $12.70 to $1,292.70 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Agrium Inc. (TSX: T.AGU, Stock Forum)shares declined nearly three per cent after the fertilizer producer said it expects only a slim profit in the first quarter, just above the break-even point.
Analysts have been expecting Agrium's profit for the first quarter of 2014 to well above break-even, although down from a year ago. The Calgary-based company said several factors have worked against it, including a slow start to the spring planting season. Its shares dropped $3.09 to $104.45.
BlackBerry (TSX: T.BB, Stock Forum) says it won't renew a licensing agreement with U.S. telecom giant T-Mobile when it expires on April 25, which means T-Mobile won't sell BlackBerry products after inventories run out. BlackBerry shares were up two cents to $8.96.
MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (TSX: T.MDA, Stock Forum) says it has suspended work on ground infrastructure for its communication satellite program in Ukraine due to the country's political instability. MDA expects the work to be delayed from four to six months. Costs associated with the stoppage are yet to be determined.
MDA shares were down nine cents to $88.70.
European bourses have also gained ground overnight. Germany's DAX was up 0.2 per cent, Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.08 per cent higher, and France's CAC 40 gained 0.07 per cent.
In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 1.04 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.34 per cent and China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.56 per cent.