CANADA STOCKS-Toronto index up as Omicron fears ease

(Updates prices, adds sector details)

Dec 24 (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock index rose on Friday, on expectations the Omicron coronavirus variant would not significantly derail global economic growth, although trading volumes are likely to be subdued due to a U.S. holiday.

At 9:41 a.m. ET (14:41 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 38.83 points, or 0.18%, at 21,257.76, with healthcare and energy stocks leading gains.

The healthcare sector was boosted by gains in pot producers including Aurora Cannabis Inc, Cronos Group Inc , Canopy Growth Corp all up between 1.13% and 2.7%.

Markets have been volatile this month as rising infections fueled by the new variant have forced countries to reinstate restrictions, although fears about its impact eased after early data suggested Omicron was less severe than the Delta variant.

The financials sector, which accounts for about 30% of the Toronto market’s value, gained 0.2%, while the industrials sector rose 0.4%.

The benchmark equity index recorded its best weekly performance in two months, aided by gains in healthcare and technology stocks.

The Canadian market will close early on Friday at 1:30 p.m ET and remain shut for Christmas and Boxing Day on Monday and Tuesday.

The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.3% as gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,809.2 an ounce.

HIGHLIGHTS

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited and BlackBerry Limited were the largest percentage gainers on the TSX.

The TSX posted six new 52-week highs and no new lows.

Across all Canadian issues there were 33 new 52-week highs and two new lows, with total volume of 7.73 million shares. (Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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