CANADA STOCKS-TSX drops as Teck, resource shares decline

* TSX off 24.71 points, 0.17 percent, at 14,883.68

* Seven of the index’s 10 main sectors fall

* Teck down 8.6 percent on merger-talks denial

TORONTO, March 31 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index dropped on Tuesday on a decline in miner Teck Resources Ltd and other resource stocks, but the fall was cushioned by modest gains in industrials and heavily weighted financials.

Vancouver-based Teck was the most influential decliner, retreating 8.6 percent to C$17.78. The stock had surged on Monday after Bloomberg News reported that Teck and Chile’s Antofagasta Plc were in early-stage merger discussions. The two companies subsequently denied the report.

The index’s materials sector, home to mining issues, was off 0.45 percent, pressured in part by weak commodity prices. Gold was headed for its third quarter of price drops, while nickel prices extended recent hefty losses, hitting the lowest price in nearly six years on record supply and weak demand.

“The commodities sectors are still challenged. You still don’t have any robust rallies in any of the real commodities and those sectors have been beaten up for so long that people are weary,” said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was off 24.71 points, or 0.17 percent, at 14,883.68. Seven of the index’s 10 main groups fell.

“It’s not all that robust recently. Up a couple of days, down a couple of days ... I would say the market is firmly stuck in neutral,” Hand said.

Financial technology firm D+H Corp fell 2.9 percent to C$38.46 after it said on Monday it agreed to acquire global payment services provider Fundtech for $1.25 billion in cash. The overall tech group was down 0.5 percent.

Offsetting the declines was a 0.12 percent rise in financial stocks and a 0.54 percent gain in industrial shares.

Canadian National Railway Ltd was the most influential gainer, rising 0.7 percent to C$84.26. Other top advancers included Bank of Nova Scotia, which was up 0.41 percent at C$62.97, and Toronto-Dominion Bank, which also added 0.41 percent, to C$53.52.

$1=$1.27 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway