CANADA STOCKS-TSX closes higher, boosted by bank stocks

TORONTO, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose on Monday in its first session back from the Christmas holiday, lifted by a recovering financial sector.

Canadian bank stocks have gained ground in recent sessions after dropping in early December after reporting largely disappointing financial results.

Barry Schwartz, portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services, said bank shares had been hurt by unfounded fears that they would be hit hard by lower oil prices.

“That was a buying opportunity; that was Santa’s gift to those who were paying attention, and they’re still kind of cheap,” he said.

Energy stocks rose in early trading, and some stayed in positive territory into the close even as crude oil prices reversed, dropping to their lowest levels since May 2009. Oil prices have slumped in recent months amid a supply glut.

Enbridge Inc closed up 1.3 percent at C$59.64, and TransCanada Corp rose 1.4 percent to C$57.06.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 54.67 points, or 0.37 percent, at 14,663.92.

Bank of Nova Scotia played the biggest role in lifting the index, rising 1.0 percent to C$66.96. Royal Bank of Canada rose 0.7 percent to C$80.82. Overall the financial sector closed up 0.5 percent.

The materials sector edged up 0.2 percent, boosted by shares of gold miners. Spot gold fell on Monday, but had jumped on Friday when Canadian equity markets were closed for the Boxing Day holiday.

Goldcorp Inc rose 0.5 percent to C$20.67, while rival Barrick Gold Corp was up 1.3 percent at C$12.18. (Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and David Gregorio)