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TSX pares weekly decline as interest rate sensitive shares gain

FILE PHOTO: The facade of the original Toronto Stock Exchange building is seen in Toronto

By Fergal Smith

(Reuters) -Canada's main stock index edged higher on Friday as energy and interest rate sensitive shares notched gains, with the index outperforming Wall Street and clawing back some of its weekly decline.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended up 98.93 points, or 0.5%, at 21,807.37, its third straight day of gains. For the week, it was down 0.4% after declining 1.6% in the previous week.

The Nasdaq and the S&P 500, two major U.S. benchmark indexes, fell after mixed corporate earnings and amid growing pessimism that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates soon.

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"It's positive to see a bit of a bounce in interest rate sensitive stocks," said Lorne Steinberg, president, Lorne Steinberg Wealth Management Inc. "We are probably going to get an interest rate cut (in Canada) sooner than they will in the U.S."

Money markets see a roughly 50% chance the Bank of Canada will begin easing as soon as June, while they expect the Fed to wait until July or September.

Communication services stocks tend to pay high dividends so they could particularly benefit from a move to rate cuts. The sector rose 0.6%, helped by a gain of 1% for the shares of BCE Inc.

"We are quite bullish on BCE with a 9% dividend yield which we believe is sustainable," Steinberg said.

Some other high dividend paying stocks, including banks and pipeline companies, also gained ground. The heavily-weighted financials index added 0.7% and Enbridge Inc was up 2.8%.

Energy rose 0.6% as the price of oil settled 0.5% higher at $83.14 a barrel after Iran played down a reported Israeli attack on its soil in a sign that an escalation of hostilities in the Middle East might be avoided.

Technology was the biggest drag on the market, ending 0.7% lower.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto and Purvi Agarwal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ravi Prakash Kumar and Deepa Babington)