CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as banks, miners offset soft data

Reuters

* TSX up 23.29 points, or 0.15 percent, at 15,054.03 * Eight of 10 main index sectors advance * Empire jumps after brokerage upgrade By John Tilak TORONTO, June 27 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Friday as concerns about sluggish economic data were offset by strength in the financial and materials sectors.

Also providing support, Empire Company Ltd jumped 4.7 percent to C$70.89 after a brokerage upgraded the stock.

Data released on Friday showed Canadian industrial product prices unexpectedly fell in May, due largely to cheaper energy and a stronger currency.

Investors also paid attention to Iraq and Ukraine, which remain volatile but show signs of stabilization. The price of U.S. crude oil slipped.

The Toronto market has gained more than 10 percent since the start of the year, and investors are looking to see if there are enough catalysts that could push the market higher.

"There's a little bit of caution as we go into the second half of the year," said Michael Simpson, senior portfolio manager at Sentry Investments.

"People are worried about geopolitical events and the ultimate rise in interest rates, and how that might impact valuations," he added.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 23.29 points, or 0.15 percent, at 15,054.03. Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.

Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, rose 0.2 percent. Royal Bank of Canada advanced 0.7 percent to C$75.83, and Bank of Montreal added 0.7 percent to C$78.39.

The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, was up 0.3 percent. Teck Resources Ltd climbed 1.5 percent to C$24.05, and Barrick Gold Corp gained 0.3 percent to C$19.29.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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