* S&P/TSX composite falls 0.37 percent to 11,311.95
* Energy shares lead way lower, gold offsets
* Uptick in U.S. consumer confidence helps pare TSX losses (Adds details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was lower on Tuesday morning with energy producers pulled down by a drop in oil prices as doubts grew about the robustness of Chinese demand.
The price of oil slipped below $75 a barrel after China implemented another clampdown on lending on Tuesday, which knocked the index’s energy group down 1 percent, the steepest fall among the index’s 10 main groups.
Shares of some of the country’s big banks and insurers, were once again caught in a downdraft after a brief respite on Monday. The financials sector has fallen in five of the last six sessions. It was off 0.15 percent at midmorning.
But U.S. data that showed consumer confidence rose for the third consecutive month in January helped the index pare earlier deeper losses that had taken it to its lowest point since Dec. 9. [ID:nN26357538]
Top heavyweight decliners included Suncor Energy (SU.TO), down 1.3 percent at C$34.66, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), down 1.15 percent at C$69.51. EnCana (ECA.TO) fell 1.1 percent to C$34.00.
At 10:27 a.m. (1527 GMT) the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 42.56 points, or 0.37 percent, at 11,311.95. The index topped 12,000 earlier this year, but has since fallen more than 5 percent.
“It’s certainly not out of the blue or has caught anyone by surprise. I see this more as buyers are stepping away as opposed to an onslaught of selling,” said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities.
“We are seeing some buying but they’re just selective and standing firm on their prices. They’re not willing to chase things.”
Gold producers headed higher on Tuesday, helping to limit the market’s fall, despite a weaker price for the precious metal. Five gold miners were among the top 10 heavyweight advancers, led by Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), up 0.84 percent at C$38.39.
$1=$1.06 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway