(Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose on Monday, starting the week on a firm footing, helped by gains in energy shares on the back of recovery in oil prices.
** At 9:38 a.m. ET (1438 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite index was up 50.97 points, or 0.34 percent, at 15,170.25.
** Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz welcomed the recent financial market developments, especially market volatility, a stronger U.S. dollar and higher yields for long-term bonds.
** Oil prices recovered some ground after heavy losses for five days as the United States imposed a range of punitive sanctions on Iran, aiming to curb exports by the Islamic Republic, including its sales of fuel. [O/R]
** Eight of the index’s 11 major sectors were higher, led by a 1.6 percent rise in energy stocks.
** U.S. crude was up 1 percent per barrel, while Brent crude added 1.4 percent.
** Second biggest percentage gainer among the major sectors was the healthcare group, which rose 1.3 percent, helped by a 7.5 percent rise in shares of Bausch Health Companies Inc, which will announce results on Tuesday.
** Also boosting sentiment was comments from Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, who said market volatility, a stronger U.S. dollar and higher yields for long-term bonds are signs that markets are becoming more normal, rather than an indication of trouble.
** The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart as Poloz pushed back against critics who complain that economic forecasts from the central bank are too optimistic.
** However, the materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners, edged down 0.2 percent, as gold and copper prices fell after investors took some profits following a rally over the past week.
** On the TSX, 162 issues were higher, while 74 issues declined for a 2.19-to-1 ratio favoring gainers, with volumes touching 13.93 million shares.
** Top percentage gainer on the TSX was Bausch Health, which jumped 7.5 percent, followed by shares of energy company Birchcliff Energy Ltd, which rose 6.1 percent.
** Sleep Country Canada Holdings fell 5.2 percent, the most on the TSX, after analysts cut price targets.
** The most heavily traded shares by volume were of The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings, Aurora Cannabis and Royal Nickel.
** The TSX posted no new 52-week high and one new low.
** Across all Canadian issues, there were two new 52-week highs and 15 new lows, with total volume touching 24.93 million shares.
Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel