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Talisman energy fields offshore Malaysia. (Talisman Energy)
Talisman energy fields offshore Malaysia. (Talisman Energy)

At midday: Telecom, oil patch deals push TSX higher Add to ...

A multi-billion dollar deal in the telecom sector and a potential purchase in the oil patch helped push the Toronto stock market higher on Wednesday.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 67.61 points to 15,382.74.

BCE Inc. is privatizing affiliate Bell Aliant in a deal worth roughly $3.95-billion. The telecom giant already controls 44 per cent of the regional telecommunications company.

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Bell Aliant shareholders will receive cash and BCE shares for a combined value of $31 per share. BCE shares were up 38 cents to $49.39, while Bell Aliant shot up $2.98 to $31.17.

BCE said it plans a capital investment of $2.1-billion across Atlantic Canada over the next five years to continue the roll out broadband wireline and wireless for consumers and business users.

“This acquisition is the next logical step, and BCE’s large national buildup in acquiring all of this subsidiary will simplify their corporate structure, eliminate costs and increase operating efficiency throughout BCE,” said Kash Pashootan, portfolio manager at First Avenue Advisory in Ottawa, a Raymond James company.

Also, Talisman Energy acknowledged late in the morning that it has been approached by Spanish energy giant Repsol. Talisman added that “there is no assurance that any transaction will be agreed” and said it won’t comment further. Shares rose seven per cent before trading was halted mid-morning for about an hour after Bloomberg initially reported that Repsol was mulling a bid for the company. Talisman shares then shot up 12.1 per cent to $11.85.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.07 of a cent to 93.07 cents (U.S.).

In New York, Boeing helped depress the Dow industrials as the aerospace giant reported a profit of $1.65-billion, or $2.24 a share, beating estimates of $2.01 a share. Revenue of $22.05 narrowly missed expectations of $22.23-billion and its shares slipped 2.27 per cent to $126.79, even as Boeing boosted its earnings guidance for the year.

The Dow lost 11.08 points to 17,102.46.

A well-received report from Apple helped push the Nasdaq up 19.86 points to 4,475.88.

Apple Inc. reported a 12 per cent increase in its quarterly profit, exceeding analysts’ estimate as iPhone shipments rose 13 per cent over a year earlier and its shares gained three per cent to $97.56.

And Microsoft erased early losses to gain 1.1 per cent to $45.31 while quarterly earnings took a hit from the Nokia devices business that it bought in April. Net income fell seven per cent to $4.61-billion, or 55 cents per share. Adjusted for charges mostly related to Nokia, earnings were 66 cents per share, six cents ahead of estimates.

The S&P 500 index added 4.57 points to 1,988.1.

Traders also kept an eye on simmering tensions between Russia and the West as Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said two Ukrainian military fighter jets have been shot down in the eastern part of the country.

There was relief on markets Tuesday after the European Union stopped well short of moving to jump to so-called Phase 3 sanctions that could cripple the Russian economy and possibly derail a fragile European economic recovery.

On the TSX, the metals and mining sector was ahead 0.9 per cent with September copper unchanged at $3.21 a pound.

The energy sector climbed 0.86 per cent, while September crude oil in New York rose 75 cents to $103.14 a barrel.

The gold sector was ahead 0.56 per cent as August gold faded 30 cents to $1,306 an ounce.

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