CANADA STOCKS-Consumer shares push TSX higher

Dec 13 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose on Thursday, led by gains in consumer staples shares amid signs of progress in trade relations between the United States and China.

* Eight of the 11 major Canadian sectors were trading higher, with the consumer staples sector, up 0.85 percent, leading the gains.

* Empire Co Ltd rose 6.9 percent, the most on the sector, after the company reported second-quarter results that topped analysts’ expectations.

* The material sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, rose 0.2 percent as copper hit its highest in more than a week.

* At 9:48 a.m. ET (1448 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 61.04 points, or 0.41 percent, at 14,844.1.

* On the TSX, 151 issues were higher, while 84 issues declined for a 1.80-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with 24.67 million shares traded.

* The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was AltaGas Ltd , which jumped 14.2 percent after the company said it would sell its indirect stake in hydroelectric projects in Northwest British Columbia for about C$1.39 billion ($1.04 billion).

* The energy sector dropped 0.4 percent as U.S. crude prices were down 0.8 percent a barrel, while Brent crude lost 0.5 percent..

* Aphria Inc fell 6 percent, the most on the TSX, and the second-biggest decliner was Alamos Gold Inc, down 4.6 percent.

* Among the most actively traded shares were cannabis producers Aurora Cannabis and Aphria Inc.

* The TSX posted three new 52-week highs and eight new lows.

* Across all Canadian issues, there were six new 52-week highs and 31 new lows, with total volume of 36.54 million shares. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)