CANADA STOCKS-TSX flat as health stocks offset losses in financials

May 18 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index was trading flat on Friday as a rise in healthcare stocks offset a drop in financial shares after inflation data lifted expectations the central bank will hold interest rates steady later this month.

* At 10:19 a.m. ET (1419 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 4.4 points, or 0.03 percent, at 16,139.15.

* Canadian inflation cooled slightly in April, Statistics Canada said, dampening prospects of another Bank of Canada interest rate hike as early as this month and weakening the Canadian dollar.

* The financials sector slipped 0.3 percent, weighed down by a 1.3 percent drop in Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia’s 0.8 percent decline.

* Seven of the index’s eleven major sectors were higher, led by the healthcare sector’s 2.85 percent jump.

* Transportation and auto-related stocks fell after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said “the NAFTA countries are nowhere near close to a deal.”

* Statistics Canada data showed Canadian retail sales rose by the most in five months in March, driven by higher spending on vehicles and clothing.

* On the TSX, 147 issues were higher, while 84 issues declined for a 1.75-to-1 ratio favoring gainers, with 10.85 million shares traded.

* The largest advancers on the exchange were cannabis firms, with Aurora Cannabis rising 5.3 percent, Canopy Growth 4.8 percent and Aphria Inc 4.7 percent.

* Prometic Life Sciences fell 2.7 percent, the most on the TSX, followed by Element Fleet Management’s 2.5 percent decline.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Aurora Cannabis, Neovasc Inc and Canopy Growth.

* The TSX posted five new 52-week highs and no new lows.

* Across all Canadian issues there were twelve new 52-week highs and eight new lows, with total volume of 18.27 million shares. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)