Feb 19 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index touched a new high on Wednesday, boosted by gains in energy stocks from a drop in new coronavirus cases in China that eased fears of falling crude oil demand.
* At 09:39 a.m. ET (14:39 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 4.18 points, or 0.02%, at 17,862.52, set for its third straight session of gains.
* The index has gained in nine of the last 11 sessions.
* Market worldwide got a boost after China posted the lowest daily rise in new coronavirus cases since late January, as well as on mounting expectations for more policy stimulus from Beijing.
* Data on Wednesday showed Canada’s annual inflation rate rose to 2.4% in January on higher gasoline prices. That came in above expectations of 2.3% and the central bank’s target of 2%, leaving analysts debating the possibility of an interest rate cut by the central bank in March.
* The energy sector climbed 0.8% as U.S. crude prices were up 1.8% a barrel, while Brent crude added 2%. The United States’ move to cut more Venezuelan crude from the market also aided the rise.
* The financials sector slipped 0.1%. The industrials sector rose 0.3%.
* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.1% as gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,602 an ounce.
* On the TSX, 119 issues were higher, while 102 issues declined for a 1.17-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with 21.28 million shares traded.
* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Ballard Power Systems, which jumped 7.3%, and Torex Gold Resources, which rose 5.7% after reporting a strong fourth quarter.
* Bausch Health Companies Inc fell 7.2%, the most on the TSX, after reporting a loss in the fourth quarter. The second biggest decliner was Lightspeed POS Inc, down 5.5% after a share offering.
* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Manulife Financial Corp; Mountain Province Diamonds Inc and Bombardier.
* The TSX posted 14 new 52-week highs and no new low.
* Across all Canadian issues, there were 78 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows, with total volume of 35.45 million shares. (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)