March 6 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged higher on Wednesday, after the Bank of Canada kept interest rates unchanged in line with expectations in the wake of a broad economic slowdown.
* The BoC said there was “increased uncertainty” around the timing of future rate increases as it expects the economy to be weaker in the first half of 2019 than projected in January.
* The central bank made it clear that future rate hike plans are still on the table, but not imminent.
* The interest-rate sensitive financials sector edged 0.2 percent higher.
* The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was The Stars Group Inc, which jumped 12.7 percent, after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit. This was followed by a 3.9 percent rise in Tourmaline Oil Corp.
* At 10:18 a.m. ET (15:18 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 22.8 points, or 0.14 percent, at 16,109.34.
* The energy sector shed 0.8 percent, as oil prices eased due to bullish output forecasts by two big U.S. producers and a build in weekly U.S. crude stockpiles outweighed OPEC-led production cuts.
* U.S. crude prices were down 0.9 percent, while Brent crude lost 0.2 percent.
* The Canadian dollar weakened to a two-month low against its U.S. counterpart, as oil prices fell and the government reported a record high trade deficit in December.
* Data showed Canada racked up a record trade deficit of C$4.59 billion ($3.43 billion) in December as the value of exports slumped by the most in over 11 years due to lower crude oil prices.
* Nine of the index’s 11 major sectors were higher, led by a 0.54 percent gain in the utilities sector.
* On the TSX, 124 issues were higher, while 97 issues declined for a 1.28-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with trading volume touching 17.84 million shares.
* Great Canadian Gaming Corp fell 12.6 percent, the most on the TSX, after reporting fourth quarter results. The second biggest decliner was Transcontinental Inc, which was down 3.3 percent.
* The most heavily traded shares by volume were cannabis producers Aurora Cannabis and The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd.
* The TSX posted 12 new 52-week highs and two new lows.
* Across all Canadian issues, there were 46 new 52-week highs and five new lows, with total volume touching 90.48 million shares. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)
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