* TSX up 0.28 percent to 11,755.09
* Energy group rises as oil price firms
* End of Australian mining tax may be near after election
* Potash up 2.1 pct, among big deals in play this month
* Gold miners retreat, price of precious metal steady
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Aug 23 Toronto's main stock index
edged higher on Monday morning as oil prices firmed and
investor sentiment rose on optimism for several big corporate
Mining stocks also got a lift from speculation that
Australia's inconclusive weekend elections could spell the end
of a controversial mining tax. [ID:nAUVOTE]
Cameco (CCO.TO) was up 2 percent at C$27.22, while Teck
Resources (TCKb.TO) rose 0.6 percent to C$34.55.
"That Australian election result gave the mining and metals
sector a bit of a kick start here," said Bruce Latimer,
trader at Dundee Securities.
"But volumes are light. They've been light the last few
weeks, and especially on Mondays and Fridays."
However, gold-mining stocks were among the TSX's chief
decliners, keeping the overall materials group nearly
Golds took a breather following gains earlier this month on
safe-haven buying, amid uncertainty about the world economic
outlook. The price of gold was flat on Monday.
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) was off 1.15 percent at C$46.36,
while Goldcorp (G.TO) slipped 1.16 percent to C$43.43.
At 10:30 a.m. (1430 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's
S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 33.02 points, or 0.28
percent, at 11,755.09. Eight of the index's 10 main groups were
up, led by a 0.54 percent gain in the hefty energy group.
The price of oil climbed above $74 a barrel on Monday from
last week's six-week low, although bulging U.S. inventories and
a lack of storm activity in the Gulf of Mexico limited gains.
Suncor Energy (SU.TO) gained 1.01 percent to C$33.01, while
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) climbed 1.13 percent to
A surge in the outlook for further M&A activity this month
has also helped boost equities in Canada and around the world.
Thomson Reuters data showed global mergers and acquisitions
have hit nearly $200 billion so far in August.[ID:nLDE67M0IJ]
"That's certainly positive for the underlying market. If
people feel credit markets and that are in good shape, that
certainly provides a good tone," said Latimer.
At home, takeover target Potash Corp (POT.TO) was up 2.1
percent at C$160.33, near its highest level since the No. 1
fertilizer producer was put in play by BHP Billiton's (BHP.AX)
(BLT.L) $39 billion hostile bid.
Potash Corp. continues to mull its alternatives, and has
held discussions with China's Sinochem Group, a source close to
the matter said on Monday. [ID:nN22340110]
Among other key deals in the making was one by
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N), which has topped a bid by technology
rival Dell Inc DELL.O to buy data storage company 3PAR
(PAR.N). As well, Campbell Soup Co (CPB.N) may make a $2.3
billion break-up bid for Britain's United Biscuits, which is
owned by private equity firms PAI Partners and Blackstone Group
LP (BX.N). [ID:nN23188685] [ID:nLDE67L05L]
Elsewhere, HSBC (HSBA.L) is in talks to buy a stake in
South Africa's Nedbank, while an estimated $58 billion worth of
M&A was playing out on Monday in Asia.
(Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson)