TSX edges higher as gold prices rise, virus concerns cap gains

(Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index edged higher on Wednesday as shares of precious metal miners were boosted by higher gold prices, but concerns about rising coronavirus cases around the world capped gains.

FILE PHOTO: The Art Deco facade of the original Toronto Stock Exchange building is seen on Bay Street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

* The U.S. coronavirus outbreak crossed a grim milestone of over 3 million confirmed cases on Tuesday as more states reported record numbers of new infections, and Florida faced an impending shortage of intensive care unit hospital beds.

* That sparked strong demand for gold, which breached $1,800 an ounce on Wednesday for the first time since 2011.

* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, rose 2.2%, the most among the major Canadian sectors trading higher.

* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Pan American Silver Corp, which jumped 6.8%, and MAG Silver Corp, which rose 6.3%.

* At 9:45 a.m. ET (13:45 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 73.44 points, or 0.47%, at 15,668.94.

* Also helping the index, the energy sector climbed 0.9% as U.S. crude and Brent crude prices gained about 0.2% each.

* On the TSX, 145 issues were higher, while 68 issues declined for a 2.13-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with 16.01 million shares traded.

* Bausch Health Companies Inc BHC.TO fell 2.1%, the most on the TSX, while the second biggest decliner was telecom provider Rogers Communications Inc, down 1.9%.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Kinross Gold Corp, B2Gold Corp and Iamgold Corp.

* The TSX posted 15 new 52-week highs and no new low.

* Across all Canadian issues there were 49 new 52-week highs and three new lows, with total volume of 36.27 million shares.

Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel