* TSX up 144.05 points, or 0.94 percent, to 15,421.25
* Healthcare falls 0.7 percent
TORONTO May 19 Canada's main stock index
rallied on Friday ahead of the Victoria Day holiday long
weekend, propelled in part by gains in banking stocks and oil
and gas companies.
Canadian economic data showed the country's annual inflation
rate held steady in April, while March retail sales climbed more
than expected, suggesting consumer spending was holding up.
The five most influential movers on the index were all
banking issues, with Toronto Dominion Bank topping the
list, rising 1.1 percent to C$63.22.
Home Capital Group Inc, which has been struggling
to finance its assets after Canada's biggest securities
regulator accused the company of making misleading statements to
investors, rose 4.5 percent to C$9.27 after it reported a rise
in its savings deposit balances.
The overall financial services group, which accounts for
about a third of the index's weight, gained 0.9 percent.
At 10:26 a.m. ET (1426 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's
S&P/TSX composite index rose 144.05 points, or 0.94
percent, to 15,421.25, recouping some of the week's sharp
losses. The index was still headed for an overall loss on the
Healthcare fell 0.7 percent, making it the only sector out
of the index's 10 main ones to fall into negative territory.
The energy group climbed 1.9 percent, with Canadian Natural
Resources Ltd advancing 1.4 percent to C$42. Oil and
gas producers were partly bolstered by higher oil prices, which
were headed towards its second week of gains. U.S. crude
prices were up 2.1 percent to $50.39 a barrel.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals
miners and fertilizer companies, added 1.1 percent.
Potash Corp advanced 2.6 percent to C$22.19 as the
fertilizer producer's chief executive said a change in SQM's
governance that gave Potash greater influence, did not
reflect its intent to raise its stake in the Chilean lithium
Canadian National Railway Co rose 1.1 percent to
C$101.05, while the overall industrials sector rose 0.9 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the TSX by
200 to 46, for a 4.35-to-1 ratio on the upside.
The index was posting two new 52-week highs and one new low.
(Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Bernard Orr)