* TSX up 0.18 percent at 13,190.97
* Gold miners nearly offset broad overall gains
* BCE lifts dividend, shares rise (Adds details)
TORONTO, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was moderately higher on Friday morning as confidence was spurred by strong Chinese economic data but gold-mining issues were pressured by healthier U.S. data.
After seesawing at the open, nine of the index’s 10 sectors pushed higher, but their rise was counterbalanced by a 0.6 percent drop in the heavyweight materials group.
Gold miners, a big component of the materials sector, were top decliners, with Barrick Gold ABX.TO off 1 percent at C$53.39, and Goldcorp G.TO down 1.2 percent at C$46.25.
The price of gold fell on Friday after China raised bank reserve requirements and reported robust trade figures, while U.S. data showed its trade deficit narrowed much more than expected. [GOL/]
“We got this daily flip-flop with gold and commodities. One day you’re worried that the U.S. deficit is going to be so big that you want to hold gold as an alternative...and the next day you get U.S. economic data that the economy is improving and maybe things aren’t that bad,” said Barry Schwartz, portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
“The market is wrestling with that and until it finds a clear trend, expect gold to be bouncing around.”
At 10:25 a.m. (1525 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 0.18 percent, or 23.37 points, at 13,190.97.
Market confidence was also supported by data that showed U.S. consumer sentiment rose more than expected in early December while an index of current conditions jumped to its highest level since January 2008, a survey released on Friday showed. [ID:nN10294524]
Sporting goods retailer Forzani Group FGL.TO shot up more than 10 percent the day after it reported a 20 percent rise in quarterly net earnings, helped by stronger same-store sales and lower operating costs. Forzani was up 10.3 percent at C$17.40. [ID:nN09264477]
Harry Winston Diamond HW.TO skidded more than 9 percent after the the diamond miner and retailer cut its production outlook. [ID:nN10295269]
BCE Inc BCE.TO, the country’s biggest communications company, gained 2.2 percent to C$35.85 after it raised its annual dividend for 2011 by 7.7 percent and said it plans to speed up the funding of future pension obligations through a voluntary prepayment. [ID:nSGE6B908F]
“When a company raises dividends, it signals to you that it feels its outlook is improving in the coming year,” Schwartz said.
The financials group, up 0.46 percent, has also been supported by hopes of dividend raises at the big banks. Several of the country’s smaller banks have boosted dividends recently.
$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway