* TSX up 0.32 percent at 10,247.86
* Materials up 0.75 percent
* Energy group falls 0.02 pct on Nexen results, lower oil (Adds details, quote)
By Nina Lex
TORONTO, July 16 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was slightly higher late on Thursday morning as China’s strong economic growth in the second quarter boosted the resource-heavy market and offset the drag of lower oil prices on energy shares.
The mining-heavy materials sector led the index’s gain, up 0.75 percent. In the sector, fertilizer producer Potash Corp POT.TO was the index’s biggest heavyweight gainer, up 4.2 percent at C$102.10, after Athabasca Potash Inc API.TO, said on Thursday it is exploring a possible sale of all or part of the company. [ID:nBNG199332] Potash Corp was considered a possible buyer.
Barrick Gold ABX.TO was up 0.58 percent at C$37.91, and Iamgold IMG.TO rose 0.54 percent to C$11.23 as gold prices steadied.
Surprisingly strong growth in China in the second quarter made it the best-performing major economy and reinforced hopes it may lead the world out of its deepest recession in 80 years. [ID:nSP537580]
“Particularly with China’s growth rate this morning coming out at 7.9 percent, that confirms the expectation that there will be a stronger demand for commodities in the next two months,” said Kate Warne, market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.
The energy sector was down 0.02 percent as the price of oil fell to around $61 a barrel. Oil company Nexen Inc NXY.TO was the index’s biggest heavyweight decliner, down 6.65 percent at C$21.61 after reporting a 95 percent plunge in quarterly profit. [ID:nBNG64586]
At 11:32 a.m. (1419 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was up 32.40 points, or 0.32 percent, at 10,247.86. Seven of its 10 main groups were higher. On Wednesday, the index rallied a strong 230 points.
“I think overall we are seeing a consolidation day after yesterday’s strong increases,” Warne said.
“It’s very typical that investors after a very large run off, think twice rather that make a big move the second day.”
$1=$1.12 Canadian Reporting by Nina Lex; Editing by Peter Galloway