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North American stocks raced higher in early trading, lifted by higher metals commodities and positive corporate sentiment.

The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 76.25 points to 11,539.65, after closing 9.66 points lower on Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 86.01, or 0.8 percent, at 10,414.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9.97, or 0.9 percent, at 1,112.44, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 18.40, or 0.8 percent, at 2,230.09.

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French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis SA is buying health care products company Chattem Inc. for $1.9-billion (U.S.), while mining equipment maker Bucyrus International Inc. is buying Terex Corp.'s mining equipment division for $1.3-billion. Meanwhile Dutch auto maker Spyker Cars submitted a new offer to buy Saab from General Motors Co.

The Canadian dollar was ahead one cent to 94.81 cents.

Crude oil for the January contract, which expires later on Monday, rose 58 cents to $73.94.

The February bullion contract rose 80 cents to $1,112.30 an ounce on the Nymex, as the U.S. dollar remained mixed against other major currencies.

Overseas Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.3 per cent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.8 per cent, and France's CAC-40 rose 1.5 per cent. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.4 per cent.

Both Canadian and U.S. markets are expected to trade lightly during the shorter Christmas holiday week. Markets close early on Thursday and remain closed on Friday.

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