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Canada's main stock index inched higher on Thursday, helped by gains in energy stocks on higher oil prices, while a jump in monthly exports and a record pace of US jobs growth also bolstered sentiment.

The US economy created jobs at a record clip in June as more restaurants and bars resumed operations, further evidence that the COVID-19 recession was probably over, though a surge in cases of the coronavirus threatens the fledgling recovery.

Meanwhile, oil prices gained as a sharp drop in oil stockpiles outweighed concerns that the spike in infections and new lockdown measures in California could stall recovery in fuel demand.

At 9:37 a.m. ET (13:37 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 249.62 points, or 1.61%, at 15,764.84.

The energy sector climbed 1.7% as US crude prices were up 1.1% a barrel, while Brent crude added 1.3%.

Canada's exports rose in May as auto industry production resumed and on higher crude prices, though imports fell on supply challenges tied to the gradual reopening of countries from COVID-19 closures, Statistic Canada said on Thursday.

The financials sector gained 1.4%. The industrials sector rose 0.9%.

The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.5% as gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,771.1 an ounce.

On the TSX, 178 issues were higher, while 43 issues declined for a 4.14-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with 14.53 million shares traded.

The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Brookfield Property Partners, which jumped 12.1% and Ballard Power Systems Inc, which rose 9.9%.

Ero Copper Corp fell 3.2%, the most on the TSX. The second biggest decliner was Celestica Inc, down 3.1%.

The most heavily traded shares by volume were Bombardier Inc, Zenabis Global Inc and Baytex Energy Corp.

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

Across all Canadian issues there were 39 new 52-week highs and four new lows, with total volume of 36.30 million shares.