* TSX up 18.58 points, or 0.13 percent, at 13,929.35
* Seven of the 10 main groups rise
* Index hovers near 31-month highs (Updates with details, comment)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished modestly higher on Tuesday, with financials and gold issues leading the gains and offsetting declines among base-metal miners.
The market extended Monday’s 1 percent rally when Chinese trade data, which showed surging imports, gave the resource-heavy TSX a boost.
“The surprise still is on the resilience of the market and how it does not seem to want to go down,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
“People have said we’re in for a correction. How many thousand of points have we gone up since then? We’re still waiting for Godot -- it may never happen,” Nakamoto said.
“Those who are betting for a pullback have certainly suffered the price of having too much cash on the side.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished 18.58 points, or 0.13 percent higher, at 13,929.35. Seven of the 10 main groups advanced.
Technology, consumer discretionaries and healthcare were the three decliners.
Among Tuesday’s big gainers were Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), which rose 1.35 percent to C$48.66 and Goldcorp (G.TO), which gained 1.7 percent to C$43.56.
Bullion prices roses to a four-week high as inflation concerns sparked a technical breakout. The precious metal also found support as Chinese inflation data came in lower than expected, easing concerns that the world’s second-largest economy would have to tighten its monetary policy. Lower interest rates tend to support gold buying. [GOL/]
Offsetting the golds’ gains was a decline among base-metals and fertilizer companies.
Potash Corp (POT.TO) came off its recent run and gave back 3.39 percent to C$60.63. U.S. grain prices fell as sentiment turned bearish amid overbought conditions.
First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) slumped 4.15 percent to 128.15, while Teck Resources TCKb.TO shed 1.36 percent to C$58.00.
Copper prices fell from record highs, posting their biggest one-day slide in three weeks, as worries about China’s ability to sustain its rate of growth and its appetite for commodities resurfaced. [MET/L] [ID:nLDE71E21N]
The overall materials group, home to a broad spectrum of miners, was up marginally, gaining 0.13 percent.
The hefty financial group, which make up nearly 30 percent of the index made the largest gains and was up 0.43 percent.
Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), which bought Milwaukee-based Optique Capital Management for an undisclosed amount on Monday, rose 2.41 percent to 18.69. [ID:nN14101128]
Energy issues added 0.18 percent, but trading was mixed within the group alongside choppy oil prices, with U.S. crude futures ending lower for a third session. [ID:nN15218620]
Talisman Energy TLM.TO advanced 1.29 percent to finish at C$22.85, but Husky Energy (HSE.TO) retreated 1.11 percent to C$27.67 after the oil producer and refiner reported a 5 percent drop in quarterly profit on Tuesday. [ID:nN14113733]
With its recent gains, the TSX is hovering around 31-month highs and nearing the 14,000-point level.
“This market has certainly defied gravity for a long, long time, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we go through 14,000 on a temporary basis,” said Levente Mady, market strategist at Union Securities.
“My inclination is we’re definitely looking at a 5 to 10 percent pullback, sooner than later.”
($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Rob Wilson)