North American stocks advanced Tuesday amid a $38.6-billion US hostile takeover bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan and positive earnings report from two big U.S. retailers.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed higher by 175.88 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 11,728.64.

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S&P/TSX composite index 3-month chart

The board of Potash Corp. rejected the offer from BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's largest mining company, as "grossly inadequate" and not in the best interests of its shareholders.

Potash shares finished the day up $30.11, or 26 per cent, to $147.34.

The potential for other large takeovers helped push the Canadian dollar up 1.08 cents to 96.81 cents US.

U.S. markets were higher following better than expected earnings from retail bellwethers Wal-Mart Stores and Home Depot.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 103.84 points, or one per cent, to 10,405.85. The Nasdaq composite index rose 27.57 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 2,209.44 while the S&P 500 index was up 13.16 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 1,092.54.

The September crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 53 cents to $75.77 US a barrel.

Oil has dropped from above $81 a barrel early last week amid resurgent fears that the world economy may not grow as much as expected in the second half.

December gold in New York was up $2.10  to $1,228.30 US an ounce.

With files from The Canadian Press