(Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose on Thursday, driven by gains in material shares on the back of rising gold and metal prices, along with news on the possibility of a “free trade deal” between Canada and China.
* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners, added 1 percent, as gold prices held steady after safe haven demand flowed in during times of political and economic uncertainty.
* Zinc rallied, supported by sliding stockpiles and signs China may be taking steps to de-escalate its trade dispute with the United States.
* Sentiment was also lifted after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada and China will continue to work together toward an “eventual” free trade deal despite the country’s allegiance to the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA), renamed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
* At 9:45 a.m. ET (1445 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite index was up 15.44 points, or 0.1 percent, at 15,148.56.
* On economic front, Canada lost 23,000 jobs in October, hurt by a decline in hiring in the trade, transportation and utilities and natural resources and mining sectors, an ADP report showed.
* Canadian home prices fell in October for the first time in eight months as widespread price declines were seen across the country, another piece of data showed.
* The energy sector rose 0.4 percent as oil prices stabilized after losing nearly 7 percent over the previous three days.
* U.S. crude prices were up 0.1 percent at $56.63 per barrel and Brent crude added 0.5 percent at $66.75 per barrel.
* On a cautionary note, the Bank of Canada said on Wednesday, the overall perceived risk to the Canadian financial system has increased slightly over the last six months, in part due to unease over the global economic outlook.
* On the TSX, 114 issues were higher, while 126 issues declined for a 1.11-to-1 ratio to the downside, with volumes touching 18.06 million shares.
* Top gainers on the TSX were shares of Aphria Inc, which jumped 5.2 percent, followed by shares of Nexgen Energy Ltd, which rose 4.8 percent.
* Uni-Select Inc fell 8.5 percent, the most on the TSX, after reporting quarterly earnings.
* The second biggest decliner was Canfor Corp, down 6.9 percent, after deal to acquire majority interest in Sweden’s
* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Aurora Cannabis, BetaPro Natural Gas 2x Daily Bear ETF
and BetaPro Natural Gas 2x Daily Bull ETF.
* The TSX posted no new 52-week high and seven new lows.
* Across all Canadian issues, there were no new 52-week high and 23 new lows, with total volume touching 32.24 million shares.
Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel