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This Jan. 28, 2011 file photo shows Hillshire Farm sausage on display at a grocery store in Palo Alto, Calif. (Paul Sakuma/AP)
This Jan. 28, 2011 file photo shows Hillshire Farm sausage on display at a grocery store in Palo Alto, Calif. (Paul Sakuma/AP)

At the open: Markets move higher on U.S. acquisition news Add to ...

The Toronto stock market opened higher Monday with little economic news on the docket except for some mixed data from China over the weekend.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 18.93 points to 14,857.83.

The Canadian dollar was up 0.13 of a cent to 91.62 cents (U.S.) as China reported Sunday that its export growth accelerated in May despite a dip in imports.

The world’s second-largest economy said exports rose seven per cent in dollar terms, up from a 0.9 per cent increase in April and rather large slump in February and March. Imports declined 1.6 per cent in May after inching up 0.8 per cent in April. Private sector analysts say the Chinese economy will likely slow down as the impact of mini-stimulus efforts fade.

Meanwhile, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 198,324 homes in May, up from 196,687 in April. The results were better than expected as economists had expected the pace to come in at 185,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

On Wall Street, U.S. markets were positive after a mixed open. There had been some expectations that the indexes would open lower, after touching record-heights last week. But that was not the case as the Dow Jones industrials climbed 16.92 points to 16,941.20, the Nasdaq jumped 1.68 points to 4,323.08, while the S&P 500 index was ahead by1.11 points to 1,950.55.

The indexes were lifted by news of a major acquisition deal from U.S. meat producer Tyson Foods Inc., which has won a bidding war for Hillshire Brands, the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs. Tyson Foods, which had been fighting with Pilgrim’s Pride for Hillshire, values the deal at $8.55-billion (U.S.).

Pharmaceutical company Merck also announced that it will spend nearly $4-billion for Idenix Pharmaceuticals with a per-share bid that more than triples the hepatitis C drug developer’s last closing price.

Pharmaceutical companies are racing to test new and potentially lucrative treatments for hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that causes liver damage and is expected to become more common as the U.S. population ages.

Merck will spend $24.50 in cash for each Idenix share. The company’s stock closed at $7.23 on Friday and had already climbed 21 per cent so far this year. Shares of Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. soared more than 230 per cent at the opening bell Monday.

On the commodities front, July crude in New York climbed 1.14 cents higher to $103.80 (U.S.) a barrel.

August bullion gained $2.10 to $1,254.60 an ounce, while July copper fell two cents to $3.03 a pound.

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