* TSX down 8.85 points, or 0.08 percent, at 11,663.99
* Four of 10 sectors higher (Recasts with gain, adds details, commentary)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, July 14 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was little changed early on Wednesday afternoon as disappointing U.S. retail sales figures were balanced by rallying oil prices and better than expected U.S. corporate earnings.
U.S. crude oil futures turned positive and rose $1 to almost $78, lifted by a government report showing crude oil stocks fell much more than forecast last week.
Supporting the outlook for the economy were robust quarterly results posted by Intel Corp (INTC.O), which sent positive signals across the cyclical technology industry and prompted at least four brokerages to raise their share-price targets for the world’s largest chipmaker. [ID:nSGE66D0G3]
“Intel had its best quarter ever and that’s in your face to people who are predicting a double-dip (recession) and Intel’s third-quarter outlook is just as strong,” said Barry Schwartz, a portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
“What drives the economy is business spending ... the trickle-down is we’re going to start to see unemployment come down in the U.S. significantly and then you can apply that to all the commodities as things are not as bad as what the doom and gloomers are telling us.”
The index was pulled lower by data that showed sales at U.S. retailers fell for a second straight month in June on weak receipts at automotive dealers and gasoline stations. [ID:nN14122226]
The index’s financial group was 0.2 percent higher and its materials sector rose 0.3 percent.
Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) rose more than 1 percent to C$61.72 and Teck Resources TCKb.TO added 0.3 percent to C$34.80.
Shares of Corus Entertainment (CJRb.TO) rose 0.5 percent to C$19.46, after the company reported a quarterly profit, citing strengthening advertising sales in both its television and radio segments. [ID:nN13265871]
At 1:25 p.m. (1725 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 8.85 points, or 0.08 percent, at 11,663.99. Four of its 10 sectors were higher, including technology shares, up 0.7 percent.
Shares of Sprott Inc (SII.TO), one of Canada’s best-known fund managers, jumped almost 11 percent to C$3.65 after the company said Peter Grosskopf will take over as chief executive, replacing founder Eric Sprott. [ID:nSGE66C0IU]
Investors are also looking ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s economic forecasts, which were set to be released alongside the minutes from the Fed’s most recent policy meeting at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT).
Looking to Thursday, the market will be watching a raft of major Chinese economic data, including figures on inflation, industrial output, retail sales and growth domestic product. ECONCN
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Peter Galloway