* Healthcare falls 0.7 percent
TORONTO, May 19 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rallied on Friday ahead of the Victoria Day holiday long weekend, propelled in part by gains in banking stocks and oil and gas companies.
Canadian economic data showed the country’s annual inflation rate held steady in April, while March retail sales climbed more than expected, suggesting consumer spending was holding up.
The five most influential movers on the index were all banking issues, with Toronto Dominion Bank topping the list, rising 1.1 percent to C$63.22.
Home Capital Group Inc, which has been struggling to finance its assets after Canada’s biggest securities regulator accused the company of making misleading statements to investors, rose 4.5 percent to C$9.27 after it reported a rise in its savings deposit balances.
The overall financial services group, which accounts for about a third of the index’s weight, gained 0.9 percent.
At 10:26 a.m. ET (1426 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index rose 144.05 points, or 0.94 percent, to 15,421.25, recouping some of the week’s sharp losses. The index was still headed for an overall loss on the week, however.
Healthcare fell 0.7 percent, making it the only sector out of the index’s 10 main ones to fall into negative territory.
The energy group climbed 1.9 percent, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd advancing 1.4 percent to C$42. Oil and gas producers were partly bolstered by higher oil prices, which were headed towards its second week of gains. U.S. crude prices were up 2.1 percent to $50.39 a barrel.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 1.1 percent.
Potash Corp advanced 2.6 percent to C$22.19 as the fertilizer producer’s chief executive said a change in SQM’s governance that gave Potash greater influence, did not reflect its intent to raise its stake in the Chilean lithium producer.
Canadian National Railway Co rose 1.1 percent to C$101.05, while the overall industrials sector rose 0.9 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the TSX by 200 to 46, for a 4.35-to-1 ratio on the upside.
The index was posting two new 52-week highs and one new low. (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Bernard Orr)