* TSX up 42.35 points, or 0.36 pct, at 11,961.06
* China trade data helps boost some miners
* Quebecor rises 3.5 percent after profit reported (Updates to close, adds quotes, details)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, March 10 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index managed to push higher in choppy trade on Wednesday, after two days of losses, as oil prices firmed and trade data from China helped lift some mining issues.
The oil and gas sector climbed 0.9 percent as the price of oil rose after a report showed a surprise drop in gasoline stocks in the United States. [O/R] Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) rose 1.3 percent to C$75.62 while Suncor Energy (SU.TO) climbed 0.5 percent to C$31.55.
The materials group, home to miners and fertilizer companies, fell 0.6 percent as spot gold prices sank.XAU= [GOL/] Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) dropped 2.2 percent to C$39.67.
However, some metal prices were helped by trade data from China, which showed exports and imports grew faster than expected in February, easing some concerns that demand might be softening in the world’s top consumer of base metals. [ID:nSGE6290A5] [MET/L]
“China continues to show strong economic growth and whenever that happens people tend to gravitate towards the metals sector or cyclical companies,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
Teck Resources TCKb.TO climbed 1.3 percent to C$41.59 while First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) edged 0.7 percent higher to C$85.83.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day up 42.35 points, or 0.36 percent, at 11,961.06, with eight of its 10 main groups higher.
Despite that rise, Nakamoto characterized Wednesday’s trade as being largely directionless.
“I didn’t see any profound news to move us up or down,” he said. “If anything, it is a pause after a good run. It can’t seem to consistently get through 12,000.”
The TSX’s rise followed two days of losses, which market watchers pegged largely on profit-taking after the TSX punched through the 12,000-point mark on Monday.
The choppy trade has also reflected ongoing investor wariness about the economic recovery.
Also on the upside Wednesday were Research In Motion RIM.TO, ahead 2.1 percent at C$77.04, and Quebecor Inc (QBRa.TO), up 3.5 percent at C$33.60.
Media and communications group Quebecor reported a quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by the strong performance of its telecommunications segment, which continued to see customer growth. [ID:nSGE6290H5]
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson