CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits seven-month high as BMO, energy shares gain

TORONTO, May 25 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index rose to a seven-month high on Wednesday, helped by strength in shares of Bank of Montreal after the lender reported quarterly results and gains in the energy sector following a jump in the oil price.

The price of oil climbed on hopes that a recent fall in supply will help balance the supply-demand disconnect for the commodity.

The energy sector jumped 1.7 percent. Suncor Energy Inc gained 1.1 percent to C$35.79, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd advanced 2.5 percent to C$39.07.

BMO kicked off the Canadian bank earnings season by reporting a slightly lower-than-expected quarterly profit and setting aside more funds to cover losses on bad loans. But it raised its dividend. The stock rose 0.8 percent to C$83.88.

Shares of other banks advanced as well. Royal Bank of Canada added 0.9 percent to C$79.25, and Bank of Nova Scotia rose 1.2 percent to C$64.53.

Investors also digested a move by the Bank of Canada to hold interest rates steady. The central bank said the economy would shrink in the second quarter as a result of damage from the massive Alberta wildfires before rebounding later in the year.

The gold-mining sector extended a decline after a sharp fall in the previous session. Barrick Gold Corp dropped 3 percent to C$21.58.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 83.69 points, or 0.6 percent, at 14,036.54. It reached its highest level since October 9. (Reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)