April 16 (Reuters) - Canada’s benchmark index was slightly higher on Monday, helped by industrial shares and waning fears of an escalating conflict in Syria following the weekend’s U.S.-led air strikes.
* At 9:53 a.m. ET (1353 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 12.05 points, or 0.08 percent, to 15,286.02. Eight of the 10 main index sectors were higher.
* Saturday’s strikes marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally Russia, which is facing further economic sanctions over its role in the conflict.
* The United States, Mexico and Canada will hasten NAFTA talks in a push to reach a deal in the coming weeks, Mexico’s president said on Saturday.
* The industrial sector advanced 0.5 percent, boosted by a 0.8 percent rise in shares of Canadian National Railway .
* The energy sector was down 0.9 percent as oil prices slipped after U.S. drilling activity rose and tensions in the Middle East eased.
* Canadian Natural Resources and Suncor Energy dipped about 1 percent and were the biggest drags on the energy sector.
* Share of Vermilion Energy Inc fell about 3 percent after the oil and gas producer said it would buy rival Spartan Energy Corp in a C$1.40 billion deal.
* Shares of Kinder Morgan Canada rose 0.8 percent. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday offered financial aid to ensure the Trans Mountain line project went ahead in a move to end an escalating crisis over the oil pipeline.
* The TSX posted one new 52-week highs and two new lows. Across all Canadian issues there were three new 52-week highs and eight new lows.
* The biggest percentage gainer on the TSX was medical marijuana producer Aphria Inc, which rose 7.5 percent after reporting quarterly results. The biggest decliner was Torex Gold Resources, down 5.4 percent.
* Among the most active Canadian stocks by volume were Aurora Cannabis, Neovasc Inc, and Aphria Inc .
* Volume on the TSX index was 8.02 million shares, while the total volume on Monday was 14.32 million shares. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru)
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