* TSX rises 81.65 points, or 0.53 percent, to 15,430.11
* Nine of the TSX's 10 main groups gain
TORONTO, March 23 Canada's main stock index rose
on Thursday as gains for heavyweight financial sector shares
offset losses for gold mining stocks, while investors awaited a
vote on a U.S. healthcare legislation replacement later in the
Gains for the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite
index came one day after Canada's Liberal government
unveiled a stay-the-course budget.
Businesses had feared higher capital gains taxes would harm
their competitiveness just as U.S. rivals benefit from a break
in taxes and regulation under U.S. President Donald Trump.
Republican leaders hoped to vote on a healthcare replacement
on Thursday but there were signs the deadline could be pushed
back. Losing or delaying it would bruise investors' confidence
in Trump's ability to deliver on his promises of tax cuts and
At 11:50 a.m. ET (1550 GMT), TSX rose 81.65 points, or 0.53
percent, to 15,430.11.
The index had touched a three-month low intraday on
Wednesday at 15,241.55 before ending higher.
On Thursday, the financials group rose 1.2 percent as a
recent decline in bond yields lost some momentum. Higher bond
yields would reduce the value of insurance companies'
liabilities and increase net interest margins of banks.
The energy group rose 0.2 percent even as oil prices
struggled to recover from four-month lows because of investor
concerns that OPEC-led supply cuts were not yet reducing record
U.S. crude inventories.
U.S. crude prices were down 0.6 percent to $47.77 a
Enbridge Inc fell 0.6 percent to C$54.77. On
Wednesday the company said it would cut about 1,000 positions,
or 6 percent of its work force, after buying Spectra Energy Corp
of Houston, the first layoffs for the combined energy
infrastructure company, the biggest in North America.
Nine of the index's 10 main groups rose, with industrials
gaining 0.9 percent as railroad stocks climbed, and consumer
staples advancing 0.7 percent.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals
miners and fertilizer companies, lost 1.3 percent.
Silver Wheaton Corp fell 5 percent to C$27.13,
while Barrick Gold Corp was down 1.7 percent at
Gold futures fell 0.2 percent to $1,246.4 an ounce.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by James Dalgleish)