CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises as Canadian Natural Resources leads energy bounce
* TSX rises 31.02 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,528.00.
* Seven of the TSX's 10 main groups climb
TORONTO, March 9 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index edged higher on Thursday as Canadian Natural Resources led a rebound in energy shares after sharp losses the day before, and the materials group gained ground.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc agreed to sell its existing and undeveloped Canadian oil sands interests to Canadian Natural Resources and to cut its share in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project from 60 percent to 10 percent.
Shares of Canadian Natural Resources rose more than 8 percent to C$42.64, while the overall energy group advanced 1.4 percent even as oil prices fell.
U.S. crude was down 1.4 percent at $49.56 a barrel, extending recent losses as record inventories kept sentiment weak.
Despite Thursday's gains, the energy group has fallen nearly 11 percent since the start of the year. On Wednesday, it posted its lowest close since September.
The materials group added 0.7 percent on Thursday as gains for fertilizer shares offset lower metal prices.
Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc rose 4.3 percent to C$23.82, and merger partner Agrium Inc gained nearly 4 percent to C$132.59. Continued...