* TSX up 16.05 points, or 0.12 percent at 13,927.31
* Five of the 10 main groups higher (Updates with details, comment)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index eked out a small gain in choppy trade on Tuesday morning, as advances among financial issues and some of the materials stocks were offset by declines in other sectors.
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), which reports quarterly earnings on Thursday, was up 1.5 percent at C$48.73, while Goldcorp (G.TO) rose 1.17 percent to C$43.33. The overall materials group was up 0.12 percent.
Gold prices rose 1 percent to near a four-week high, while copper hit record highs.
The resources found support as Chinese inflation data came in lower-than-expected, easing concerns that the world’s second-largest economy — and a major consumer of the commodities — would have to tighten its monetary policy. Lower interest rates tend to support gold buying. [GOL/] [MET/L]
A softer U.S. dollar, which extended losses against the euro after U.S. retail sales data missed expectations also underpinned the precious metal. [FRX/]
“Gold unquestionably has been the feature on the inflation news, the pick-up in China,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
Financial issues rose 0.54 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was up 0.78 percent at C$55.77 and Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) advanced 1.04 percent to C$18.44.
At 10:50 a.m. (1550 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 16.05 points, or 0.12 percent at 13,927.31. Earlier in the session, it hit its highest level in about 31 months.
“The technicals of the market, while overbought, are still very strong,” said Ing.
Five of the TSX’s 10 main groups were in positive territory.
Energy stocks were mixed, with Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) up 1.78 percent to C$45.16 and Husky Energy (HSE.TO) off 1.29 percent at C$27.62. The overall group was up 0.1 percent after falling lower earlier.
Brent crude prices, which rallied on Middle East unrest, slipped and closed some of the gap with U.S. crude prices, which has been dogged by high oil stockpiles in recent sessions. [O/R]
On the downside, fertilizer companies reversed recent gains as some grain prices fell. Potash Corp POT.TO was down 2.9 percent at C$60.98 while Agrium Inc AGU.TO fell 2.53 percent to C$94.64.
($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Editing by Rob Wilson)