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Dec 23 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index hovered below record highs on Monday, as U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments that a preliminary trade deal with China would be signed “very shortly” offset worries about domestic growth.
* Investors’ spirit was further lifted after China’s finance ministry said on Monday Beijing would lower tariffs on products ranging from frozen pork and avocado to some types of semiconductors next year.
* At 10:18 a.m. ET (15:18 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 12.52 points, or 0.07%, at 17,130.96. The index hit a record high of 17,166.39 earlier in the session.
* Gains came even as data showed Canada’s economy unexpectedly shrank by 0.1% in October, the first monthly decline since February, partly due to a U.S. auto strike that hit manufacturing. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a gain of 0.1%.
* October’s growth figures were the latest in a string of disappointing data that analysts say may prompt the Bank of Canada to mull a rate cut.
* Rate-sensitive financial stocks were down 0.3%.
* Despite the latest dose of trade optimism, gold price - which tends to gain during times of political or economic uncertainties - rose 0.3% and silver prices jumped 1%. That helped the materials index up about 1.5%.
* However, dragging the main index was a near 2% decline in healthcare stocks. Aurora Cannabis slid 9% after the firm announced departure of its chief corporate officer Cam Battley.
* On the TSX, 121 issues were higher, while 102 issues declined for a 1.19-to-1 ratio favoring gainers, with 33.69 million shares traded.
* The TSX posted 5 new 52-week highs and one new low.
* Across all Canadian issues there were 100 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows, with total volume of 62.84 million shares. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Shinjini Ganguli)