December 22, 2016 / 3:35 PM / in 9 months

CANADA STOCKS-TSX barely higher as falling financials cancel resource rise

(Adds details on data, specific stocks; updates prices)

* TSX up 15.49 points, or 0.1 percent, at 15,321.38

* Half of the TSX’s 10 main groups move higher

TORONTO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index was barely higher in early trade on Thursday as resource stocks broadly gained and financial and consumer names pulled back.

At 10:14 a.m ET (1514 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 15.49 points, or 0.1 percent, at 15,321.38.

Advancers barely outnumbered decliners overall, and half of the index’s 10 main groups were in positive territory.

Insurers were among the heaviest weights, with Manulife Financial Corp down 0.6 percent to C$24.46 and Sun Life Financial Inc off 0.4 percent to C$52.16.

Canada’s annual inflation rate cooled in November, suggesting the Bank of Canada will maintain its cautious stance and keeping alive the possibility of another rate cut as new measures of underlying inflation also fell short of the central bank’s target.

Meanwhile, separate data from Statistics Canada showed October retail sales rose more than expected, boding well for economic growth at the start of the fourth quarter.

The financials group slipped 0.2 percent overall, while the consumer groups were also lower. Staples fell 0.6 percent and discretionary lost 0.3 percent.

The most influential gainers on the index included Suncor Energy Inc, up 1 percent to C$44.42, and pipeline company Enbridge Inc, which advanced 1 percent to C$57.19.

The energy group climbed 0.5 percent overall, as oil prices edged up with strong U.S. data, a pause in the U.S. dollar rally, and optimism that crude producers would abide by an agreement to limit output to prop up prices.

Canada’s telecom regulator ruled late on Wednesday that broadband internet access will be considered a basic service, setting up a fund that providers will pay into to improve access to high-speed services in rural and isolated areas of the country.

Telecoms climbed 0.5 percent, with Rogers Communications Inc up 0.6 percent to C$51.80 and Quebecor Inc adding 0.4 percent to C$37.53.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.4 percent. Barrick Gold Corp gained 1.4 percent to C$19.25. Gold futures rose 0.2 percent to $1,132.8 an ounce.

BlackBerry Ltd declined 1 percent to C$9.68, extending losses since it reported quarterly earnings on Tuesday. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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