CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises as financials gain ground

* TSX rises 81.65 points, or 0.53 percent, to 15,430.11

* Nine of the TSX’s 10 main groups gain

TORONTO, March 23 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose on Thursday as gains for heavyweight financial sector shares offset losses for gold mining stocks, while investors awaited a vote on a U.S. healthcare legislation replacement later in the day.

Gains for the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index came one day after Canada’s Liberal government unveiled a stay-the-course budget.

Businesses had feared higher capital gains taxes would harm their competitiveness just as U.S. rivals benefit from a break in taxes and regulation under U.S. President Donald Trump.

Republican leaders hoped to vote on a healthcare replacement on Thursday but there were signs the deadline could be pushed back. Losing or delaying it would bruise investors’ confidence in Trump’s ability to deliver on his promises of tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

At 11:50 a.m. ET (1550 GMT), TSX rose 81.65 points, or 0.53 percent, to 15,430.11.

The index had touched a three-month low intraday on Wednesday at 15,241.55 before ending higher.

On Thursday, the financials group rose 1.2 percent as a recent decline in bond yields lost some momentum. Higher bond yields would reduce the value of insurance companies’ liabilities and increase net interest margins of banks.

The energy group rose 0.2 percent even as oil prices struggled to recover from four-month lows because of investor concerns that OPEC-led supply cuts were not yet reducing record U.S. crude inventories.

U.S. crude prices were down 0.6 percent to $47.77 a barrel.

Enbridge Inc fell 0.6 percent to C$54.77. On Wednesday the company said it would cut about 1,000 positions, or 6 percent of its work force, after buying Spectra Energy Corp of Houston, the first layoffs for the combined energy infrastructure company, the biggest in North America.

Nine of the index’s 10 main groups rose, with industrials gaining 0.9 percent as railroad stocks climbed, and consumer staples advancing 0.7 percent.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 1.3 percent.

Silver Wheaton Corp fell 5 percent to C$27.13, while Barrick Gold Corp was down 1.7 percent at C$25.55.

Gold futures fell 0.2 percent to $1,246.4 an ounce. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by James Dalgleish)