Jan 3 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell on Friday after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad killed a top Iranian commander, sharply escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, but a jump in shares of energy companies limited losses.
* Iran has promised harsh revenge after an overnight attack authorized by U.S. President Donald Trump killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.
* The energy sector was among the few bright spots, climbing 2%, as fears of disruption to Middle East oil supplies boosted crude prices.
* U.S. crude prices were up 3.6% a barrel, while Brent crude added 3.7%.
* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Meg Energy Corp, which jumped 5%, and Baytex Energy Corp, which rose 4.8%.
* At 09:38 a.m. ET (14:37 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 60.26 points, or 0.35%, at 17,039.69.
* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.4% as gold prices benefited from an increased demand for safe-haven.
* Gold futures rose 1.3% to $1,544.8 an ounce.
* On the TSX, 86 issues were higher, while 142 issues declined for a 1.65-to-1 ratio to the downside, with 16.32 million shares traded.
* Air Canada fell 5.6%, the most on the TSX, and the second biggest decliner was First Quantum Minerals Ltd, down 4.2%.
* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Baytex Energy Co and Continental Gold Inc.
* The TSX posted five new 52-week highs and no new low.
* Across all Canadian issues there were 11 new 52-week highs and two new lows, with total volume of 31.12 million shares. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)