* TSX up 66.29 points, or 0.44 percent, at 15,008.84
* Eight of the 10 main index sectors advance
* Suncor, Canadian Natural help drive gains
By John Tilak
TORONTO, April 2 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index advanced on Thursday as shares of oil producers shrugged off a decline in crude prices, and positive U.S. economic data helped drive gains in most other sectors.
Oil prices dropped as Iran’s negotiations with major global powers on its nuclear program continued, adding to uncertainty about whether it will be allowed to increase its oil exports, which would add to global oversupply.
Data showed that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week, indicating strength in the world’s biggest economy.
The benchmark Canadian stock index, which fell in March, looked on track to end the week higher. It is up about 2.5 percent so far this year.
“The market is entering a waffling period here. I‘m pretty cautious,” said Douglas Davis, vice chairman at Davis-Rea.
“Even though oil inventories are still going up, even though we seem to be seeing some sort of a bottoming in the price of oil, it’s not necessarily going to hold,” he added.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 66.29 points, or 0.44 percent, at 15,008.84. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
The energy sector advanced 1.7 percent. Suncor Energy Inc jumped 3.2 percent to C$38.43 and was the most influential gainer on the index. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd added 1 percent to C$39.49.
Financial shares rose with Royal Bank of Canada climbing 0.8 percent to C$76.85, and Bank of Montreal gaining 0.8 percent to C$76.45.
$1=$1.26 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway