CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises on gains in energy firms, COVID-19 treatment hopes

Aug 24 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index advanced on Monday as energy shares rose on firmer oil prices, with signs of progress in COVID-19 treatment efforts bolstering sentiment.

* The energy sector climbed 1.4% as U.S. crude prices were up 0.4% a barrel, while Brent crude added 0.8% as storms closed in on the Gulf of Mexico, shutting more than half of the region’s oil production.

* U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday hailed the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of a coronavirus treatment that uses blood plasma from recovered patients

* At 9:37 a.m. ET (13:37 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 82.74 points, or 0.5%, at 16,600.59.

* The financials sector gained 0.8%, while the industrials sector rose 0.5%.

* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.2%, even as gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,929.6 an ounce.

* On the TSX, 154 issues were higher, while 59 issues declined for a 2.61-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with 8.74 million shares traded.

* The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was Ballard Power Systems Inc, which jumped 5.3% after brokerage Bernstein started coverage of the stock with an “outperform” rating.

* Its gains were followed by Pason Systems Inc, which rose 3.9% after RBC assumed coverage of the oil and gas services provider with a “sector perform” rating.

* Pot producer Aurora Cannabis Inc fell 2.1%, the most on the TSX, and the second-biggest decliner was Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc, down 1.4%.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were NextSource Materials Inc, Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd and Just Energy Group Inc.

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

* Across all Canadian issues there were 43 new 52-week highs and eight new lows, with total volume of 25.26 million shares. (Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)