* Nine of 10 main index sectors advance
* Canadian Natural, Suncor drive weakness in energy sector
By John Tilak and Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index was little changed on Monday as a decline in oil and gas stocks, fueled by lower crude prices, offset gains in other sectors.
The plunge in oil prices over the past six months, triggered by worries about excess supply, has been the biggest drag on both energy shares and Canada’s benchmark equities index. The TSX is down about 2.5 percent this year.
Oil prices dropped below the $50 mark on Monday on concerns about China’s economic growth, and they have lost about 55 percent of their value since June.
The Chinese premier said the country’s economy faces significant downward pressure this year. Investors were also awaiting China’s fourth-quarter gross domestic product report, due on Tuesday.
“The market is poised at an inflection point. The question is, is there some value here?” said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
He said he has been advising clients to selectively buy quality energy stocks but avoid speculative bets.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 3.09 points, or 0.02 percent, at 14,312.50. Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Shares of energy producers dropped 1.6 percent. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd shed 3.1 percent to C$34.41, and Suncor Energy Inc lost 1.3 percent to C$35.55.
Financials, the index’s most heavily weighted sector, climbed, with Toronto-Dominion Bank advancing 0.7 percent to C$50.54 and Royal Bank of Canada gaining 0.4 percent to C$75.80. (Editing by Peter Galloway and Lisa Shumaker)