CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as U.S. data offset by China fears, Empire Co drop
* TSX down 14.15 points, or 0.10 percent, at 14,304.85 * Seven of the 10 main index sectors decline * Empire Co drops after posting quarterly results By John Tilak TORONTO, March 13 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was little changed on Thursday as bullish economic signals from the United States were undermined by data from China and a decline in shares of grocery chain operator Empire Co Ltd. Empire dropped about 3 percent, making it one of the biggest heavyweight decliners, after the operator of the Sobeys grocery chain posted a fall in quarterly earnings late on Wednesday. In China, growth in investment, retail sales and factory output slipped to multiyear lows, reinforcing concerns raised by a recent wave of weak economic figures in the world's second-biggest economy. Data showing that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a three-month low last week failed to lift investor sentiment. Despite Thursday's modest decline, the Toronto stock market's benchmark index is up about 5 percent this year, increasing concern among some investors that its runup could result in a correction. "I'm going to start taking profits in the next two to three weeks. Am I going to be bailing out totally? No," said Keith Richards, portfolio manager and technical analyst at ValueTrend Wealth Management. "You stick to the program, let the market climb the wall of worry and when you see the market start to roll over, then you can get out," he added. Richards expects the Canadian market to pull back in the near term before reaching the 15,000 mark by the end of the year. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 14.15 points, or 0.10 percent, at 14,304.85. Seven of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red. Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, declined, with Bank of Nova Scotia losing 0.3 percent to C$64.90 and Bank of Montreal slipping 0.4 percent to C$73. The energy group added 0.2 percent, supported by a gain in the price of U.S. crude oil. Talisman Energy was up 0.8 percent at C$10.99. Empire fell to C$68.16 and was the biggest percentage decliner on the index. Shares of Cameco Corp advanced 3.9 percent to C$27.96 after the uranium miner said it had begun producing ore at its often-delayed Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan.