March 21 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index eked out gains on Thursday after data showed increased domestic hiring and wholesale trade, even as the U.S. Federal Reserve abandoned projections for interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown.
* At 10:05 a.m. ET (1405 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 13.96 points, or 0.09 percent, at 16,181.52.
* The Fed on Wednesday brought its three-year drive to tighten monetary policy to an abrupt end, saying it would halt the steady decline of its balance sheet in September.
* On the economic front, Canada added 36,200 jobs in February, led by hiring in the professional and business services sector, according to the latest ADP report.
* Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said wholesale trade increased by 0.6 percent in January, above a 0.5 percent rise forecast by the Reuters’ survey of analysts.
* Eight of the index’s 11 major sectors were higher.
* The energy sector was unchanged, as oil prices edged lower but hovered near 2019 highs. U.S. crude prices were down 0.2 percent a barrel, while Brent crude lost 0.3 percent.
* The heavyweight financial sector slipped 0.4 percent. The industrials sector rose 0.8 percent.
* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.1 percent.
* On the TSX, 155 issues were higher, while 83 issues declined for a 1.87-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with 34.92 million shares traded.
* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Boyd Gaming Corp, which jumped 8.1 percent, and Crescent Point Energy Corp, which rose 4.1 percent.
* Alamos Gold Inc fell 3.4 percent, the most on the TSX, as Bank of Canada downgraded the stock to “sector perform”.
* The second-biggest decliner was Martinrea International Inc, down 3.2 percent, as BMO moved to the sidelines on the company’s stock.
* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Aurora Cannabis, Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd and Crescent Point Energy.
* The TSX posted 11 new 52-week highs and no new lows.
* Across all Canadian issues, there were 48 new 52-week highs and five new lows, with total volume of 57.04 million shares. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)
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