* TSX up 33.52 points at 12,237.94
* Materials, financials, energy lead index higher
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, April 15 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index edged higher on Thursday morning as steady commodity prices, strong U.S. earnings and surging Chinese economic growth offset persisting worries over debt-laden Greece.
China, the world’s top consumer of copper, reported economic growth accelerated in the first quarter to 11.9 percent, the fastest annual pace in nearly three years, boosting the Toronto index’s materials sector by 0.3 percent.
Base-metals miner First Quantum Minerals FM.TO rose 0.6 percent to C$80.49, and HudBay Minerals HBM.TO shot up 3.5 percent to C$14.14.
Financials were up 0.3 percent. Bank of Montreal BMO.TO gained 0.8 percent to C$63.52, and Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO was 0.7 percent higher at C$77.21.
Oil held near $86 a barrel, which helped support energy stocks, even though strength in the U.S. dollar tempered an early rally on news of the Chinese data. [O/R]
Suncor Energy Inc SU.TO, Canada’s largest oil company, rose 0.2 percent to C$35.15, but natural gas major EnCana Corp ECA.TO lost 0.2 percent to C$31.73.
Gold miners were down 0.3 percent as bullion prices were pressured by the U.S. dollar strength.
Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO, the world’s biggest gold producer, slipped 0.7 percent to C$40.36.
“The bullet for today, I think it looks very good given what’s going on in China, which is good for the commodities,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier.
At 10:38 a.m. (1438 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 33.52 points, or 0.27 percent, at 12,237.94. The index opened in negative territory but quickly turned higher.
U.S. stocks also dipped at the open as worries over Greece’s move to start official talks with its multilateral backers undercut a strong profit forecast from United Parcel Service Inc. [UPS.N]
Nakamoto said the results from economic bellwether UPS were well received in Canada.
“That’s confirmation also that the global economy is on the mend. It hasn’t fully healed but it’s certainly on the mend,” he said.
Nakamoto said the direction of the TSX index will now depend on major Canadian company earnings, which start rolling in next week.
“I think there’s a bit of nervousness to see how they report and more importantly what they say about the future.”
$1=$1.00 Canadian Reporting by Claire Sibonney, editing by Peter Galloway