Jan 31 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index opened higher on Thursday as shares of precious metal miners gained on the back of higher gold prices.
* Gold rose to its highest in nine months after the U.S. Federal Reserve paused its monetary tightening cycle, denting the dollar and putting bullion on track for its fourth straight monthly gain.
* The Fed held U.S. interest rates steady on Wednesday but said it would be patient in lifting borrowing costs further this year as it pointed to rising uncertainty about the economic outlook.
* Gains in the precious metal pushed the materials sector up 0.4 percent. The sector includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies.
* The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was Eldorado Gold Corp, which jumped 23.3 percent after its decision to resume mining and heap leaching at Kisladag.
* At 9:49 a.m. ET (1449 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 9.54 points, or 0.06 percent, at 15,494.09.
* On the macro front, Statistics Canada said the Canadian economy shrank by 0.1 percent in November from October due to weakness in wholesale trade, manufacturing and construction.
* Still, the Canadian dollar was little changed against its U.S. counterpart, maintaining its outperformance this month against its peers as oil prices rose.
* U.S. crude prices were up 1.1 percent a barrel, while Brent crude added 0.7 percent.
* On the TSX, 131 issues were higher, while 94 issues declined for a 1.39-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with 21.84 million shares traded.
* Methanex Corp fell 4.7 percent, the most on the TSX, after its fourth-quarter results fell short of analysts’ estimates
* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Aurora Cannabis, Precision Drilling and Aphria Inc .
* The TSX posted seven new 52-week highs and no new lows.
* Across all Canadian issues, there were 14 new 52-week highs and one new low, with total volume of 36.20 million shares. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)