March 25, 2020 / 2:31 PM / 9 days ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX gains ground on stimulus bill

March 25 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index climbed on Wednesday after the country's legislators agreed to approve a C$27 billion ($18.8 billion) stimulus bill to help people and businesses deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill - which also includes C$55 billion in the form of tax deferrals - must now be approved by the unelected Senate, which will meet later on Wednesday.

At 10:07 a.m. ET (14:07 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 29.68 points, or 0.24%, at 12,600.76.

A total of 2,792 Canadians have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 27 have died, while more than a million people have applied for unemployment benefits in less than two weeks.

Also lifting the mood in equity markets was a $2 trillion package approved by U.S. politicians to alleviate the economic impact of the virus outbreak.

Eight of the index's 11 major sectors were higher but the materials sector fell 3.1%, as gold prices retreated from a two-week high.

The energy sector dropped 0.3% as U.S. crude prices fell 2.9% a barrel, while Brent crude lost 3.5%.

Canada, which is also a big exporter of commodities such as oil and gold, has been exposed to the wild swings in prices of metals and crude. The main index has lost about 30% from its record closing high hit in February.

On the TSX, 181 issues were higher, while 45 issues declined for a 4.02-to-1 ratio favoring gainers, with 29.89 million shares traded.

The biggest percentage gainers on the TSX were Shawcor Ltd , which jumped 12.1%, followed by shares of NFI Group , which rose 11.9%.

Secure Energy Services fell 4.3%, the most on the TSX, followed by the shares of Seven Generation, down 4.9%.

The most heavily traded shares by volume were those of Bombardier and Air Canada.

The TSX posted no new 52-week high and one new low.

Across all Canadian issues there were one new 52-week high and 10 new lows, with total volume of 49.96 million shares. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru)

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