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CANADA STOCKS-TSX barely higher as oil price gain helps energy stocks
March 3, 2017 / 4:07 PM / 9 months ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX barely higher as oil price gain helps energy stocks

(Adds specific stocks, updates prices)

* TSX up 4.49 points, or 0.03 percent, at 15,541.1

* Half of the TSX’s 10 main groups move higher

TORONTO, March 3 (Reuters) - Canada’s benchmark stock index made small gains on Friday as some heavyweight energy and financial stocks rose with higher oil prices and as investors positioned themsevles for a possible U.S. interest rate hike this month.

At 10:29 a.m. EST (1529 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 4.49 points, or 0.03 percent, at 15,541.14.

Half of its 10 main groups were higher, and advancers and decliners were evenly matched.

The index is on track for a 0.1 percent gain on the week.

The most influential movers on the day included Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, which added 2.1 percent to C$41.34, extending Thursday’s sharp jump after posting stronger-than-expected earnings.

The energy group climbed 1.1 percent overall, with Cenovus Energy Inc up 1.9 percent at C$17.13. However, pipeline operators slipped, with Enbridge Inc down 0.3 percent to C$55.07 and TransCanada Corp also off 0.3 percent, at C$60.98.

Oil prices recouped some of the previous session’s losses as a weaker dollar encouraged buying, although investors remained cautious after Russian production figures showed weak compliance with a global deal to cut output.

The financials group gained 0.2 percent overall, with Bank of Nova Scotia up 0.8 percent to C$79.34 and Toronto-Dominion Bank added 0.6 percent to C$69.40.

Scotia’s earnings earlier this week smashed expectations, while TD also beat forecasts, and its U.S. exposure is seen as a positive.

Canada’s banks are already seeing the benefits of pro-growth policies pursued by U.S. President Donald Trump’s new administration, executives said, with expectations of tax cuts, lighter regulation and fiscal stimulus boosting market confidence.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will give a speech at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) that follows a string of hawkish comments, interpreted as favoring interest rate hikes, from Fed officials this week.

Higher rates would also help Canadian banks increase their net interest margins.

Industrials rose 0.2 percent, with Canadian National Railway Co advancing 0.7 percent to C$95.67.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.4 percent.

TransAlta advanced 5.8 percent to C$7.46 after the utility reported quarterly earnings. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp Editing by W Simon)

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