* TSX up 18.64 points, or 0.16 percent, at 11,979.70
* Financial sector helps keep TSX above water
* China inflation data weighs on miners (Updates to close, quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, March 11 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index eked out a small gain on Thursday, closing higher for a second straight session, lifted by strength in financials and gold miners.
The financial sector rose 0.4 percent, with Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) up 0.4 percent at C$59.40, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) up 0.5 percent at C$58.05.
U.S. bank shares rose on Thursday, and Canadian banks followed their lead, as bipartisan talks on an overhaul of financial regulation failed in the U.S. Senate. [ID:nN11219944] [.N]
Gold-mining shares firmed on largely steady gold prices. Gains were kept in check by lingering concerns about possible monetary tightening in China. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) added 1 percent to finish at C$40.05.
Threatening to pull the market lower was the base-metals sector, which weakened on concern that higher Chinese inflation would spawn interest rate hikes, which would slow Chinese economic activity and demand for resources.[ID:nTOE6290B5]
Teck Resources TCKb.TO dropped 1.4 percent to C$41.03, and copper miner Quadra Mining QUA.TO fell 2.2 percent to C$17.19. [METL/]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day up 18.64 points, or 0.16 percent, at 11,979.70. The index traded in a tight range and hovered at the break even level for most of the day with no real drivers.
“I think there’s a stalemate between those that think the market are going higher and those that think they’ve reached some form of equilibrium or state of relative fair value,” said Tim Burt, president and chief investment officer at Cardinal Capital Management Inc. in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “Until you get one side taking leadership, the market just seems to be stuck.”
($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)