Canadian banks are looking at their U.S. counterparts as though they are shoppers eyeing a blue-light special, wondering if a deal is worth it at any price.

Armed with healthier balance sheets than their U.S. rivals, the biggest Canadian banks have been cautiously considering opportunities in the United States as the recession has deepened. Though it was unsuccessful, Toronto-Dominion Bank's bid late last week for the failed BankUnited Financial Corp. suggested that Canadian bankers may soon accelerate their long-awaited expansion south of the border.

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