(Adds stock market prices after close, strategist quote, details on Barrick plans and U.S. job growth data) ) * TSX up 2.98 points, or 0.02 percent, at 14,302.06 * Seven of 10 main index sectors advance * Royal Bank of Canada little changed after court decision By John Tilak TORONTO, March 10 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index ended little changed on Monday as a gain in financial shares helped offset weakness in the materials sector after data showing a sluggish Chinese economy weighed on the prices of some commodities.
Data released over the weekend showed an unexpected drop in Chinese exports in February, renewing concerns about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
The resource-sensitive Toronto market appeared to shrug off news of the weakness in China, a major importer of commodities. The index was up about 5 percent this year.
"Investors seem to be taking the news from China in their stride," said Elvis Picardo, strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver. "You've seen commodity prices back off a little, but overall there's no big, negative reaction on the TSX." "Investors are hoping that U.S. strength offsets any lingering weakness in China or anywhere else," he added.
Data released Friday showed that U.S. job growth picked up in February, topping market expectations.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed up 2.98 points, or 0.02 percent, at 14,302.06. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher.
Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, added 0.3 percent. Toronto Dominion Bank added 1.1 percent to C$51, and Bank of Nova Scotia gained 0.6 percent to C$63.98.
Royal Bank of Canada was flat after a Delaware judge ruled that the lender should be held liable to former shareholders of Rural/Metro Corp because it failed to disclose conflicts of interest that tainted the $438 million buyout of the ambulance operator.
Gold-mining shares gave back 0.7 percent, with Goldcorp Inc slipping 1.1 percent to C$29.64 and Barrick Gold Corp losing 0.8 percent to C$21.90.
Barrick said it planned to sell about 13.5 percent of its holdings in its majority-owned subsidiary African Barrick Gold Plc.