April 19 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index was slightly lower on Thursday, as declines in financials and consumer cyclical companies weighed, but strong gains in energy shares that benefited from a rally in oil prices kept further losses in check.
* At 9:52 a.m. ET (1352 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 8.89 points, or 0.06 percent, at 15,521.08 after a five-day rally.
* The energy sector, which accounts for nearly a fifth of the index’s weight, advanced 1.2 percent, helped by a 1.7 percent rise in shares of Canadian Natural Resources and other oil and gas producers.
* Oil prices continued to climb to their highest since late 2014 amid a decline in U.S. crude inventories and after sources said top exporter Saudi Arabia aims to push prices even higher.
* Brent crude futures was 82 cents higher at $74.30 a barrel while WTI crude futures rose 46 cents to $68.93.
* Eight of the 10 main index sectors were in the red.
* The heavy weight financial sector was 0.3 percent lower, as marginal declines in shares of big banks weighed.
* Gold prices dipped as dollar rose and global geopolitical tensions declined.
* Barrick Gold’s unit, Acacia Mining, reported that its profit halved in the first quarter mainly due to lower production at its flagship mine.
* The TSX posted 13 new 52-week highs and one new low.
* The biggest percentage gainer on the TSX was Trican Well Service, which rose 3.4 percent, while the largest decliner was Interfor Corp, down 2.9 percent.
* Neovasc Inc, Athabasca Oil Co and Aurora Cannabis were among the most active Canadian stocks by volume.
* Volume on the TSX index was 22.37 million shares, while the total volume on Thursday was 43.39 million shares. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)
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