* TSX up 31.52 points, or 0.21 percent, at 14,770.72
* Seven of 10 main index sectors advance
By John Tilak
TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index ended higher on Thursday as a rise in copper prices supported shares of some mining companies, offsetting a decline in the energy sector.
The benchmark TSX’s second straight gain follows equity market weakness after a strong U.S. jobs report on Friday fueled investor speculation that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates sooner than expected.
But data showing that U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in February did help ease some of those fears.
Copper hit its highest prices in more than a week after upbeat lending data out of China calmed fears about metals demand, while energy shares followed the price of U.S. crude oil lower.
Oil prices have been choppy in recent months over concerns about global oversupply. A plunge in prices from the middle of last year has recently begun to show signs of leveling off.
Still, investors should not be betting on oil “until something in the fundamentals really changes,” said Marcus Xu, portfolio manager and president at M.Y. Capital Management Corp, who noted that oil inventories were still going up.
“I’m not bullish on the energy sector,” he added. “But if you’re a long-term investor and you have high quality names, you stay with them.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 31.52 points, or 0.21 percent, at 14,770.72. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Among shares of energy producers, Suncor Energy Inc lost 1.8 percent to C$35.38 and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd gave back 0.6 percent to C$36.37.
In the mining sector, First Quantum Minerals Ltd gained 0.5 percent to C$13.81, and Teck Resources Ltd added 1 percent to C$17.91. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Lisa Shumaker)