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TMX Group Inc. signage is displayed on a screen in the broadcast center of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, Oct. 31, 2011. A takeover of Toronto Stock Exchange owner TMX Group Inc. by a group of Canadian banks and pension funds is "significantly" more likely to succeed after TMX's board endorsed the C$3.73 billion ($3.73 billion) offer, analysts said. Photographer: Norm Betts/Bloomberg (Norm Betts/Bloomberg)
TMX Group Inc. signage is displayed on a screen in the broadcast center of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, Oct. 31, 2011. A takeover of Toronto Stock Exchange owner TMX Group Inc. by a group of Canadian banks and pension funds is "significantly" more likely to succeed after TMX's board endorsed the C$3.73 billion ($3.73 billion) offer, analysts said. Photographer: Norm Betts/Bloomberg (Norm Betts/Bloomberg)

At midday: TSX clings to gains, S&P 500 slips Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was higher Monday, building on last week’s strong gains amid a major corporate development in the consumer sector.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 34.04 points to 13,186.1, after jumping almost two per cent last week, leaving the TSX up 5.65 per cent year to date.

“We seem to have broken a little bit of this underperformance trend that has been existing for the majority of the year,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.

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“We are seeing a landscape where investors are becoming more confident . . . that growth is going to improve a bit across the board and when that happens, Canada’s market is squarely in the crosshairs of an improving profile because export demand will have a huge impact on what we see from the TSX.”

Maple Leaf Foods (TSX:MFI) is looking at the possibility of selling its bakery business, which includes a 90 per cent interest in Canada Bread (TSX:CBY), maker of Dempster’s and other brands. Based on recent stock market values, Canada Bread had a value of about $1.6 billion prior to the announcement Monday. Maple Leaf shares jumped $1.30 or 9.77 per cent to $14.60 while Canada Bread shares surged $4.07 or 6.64 per cent to $65.32.

The Canadian dollar was unchanged at 97.14 cents US two days before the Bank of Canada’s latest interest rate announcement. Many economists expect the bank will keep its key rate at one per cent until around the fourth quarter of 2014.

U.S. indexes were mixed as investors look to a heavy week of earnings data and economic reports that were held up because of the partial U.S. government shutdown that dragged on this month until late last week.

The Dow Jones industrials declined 23.06 points to 15,376.59, the Nasdaq gained 6.54 points to 3,920.82 and the S&P 500 index dipped 1.27 points to 1,743.23.

The major economic report of the week is the U.S. government’s employment report for September. That’s due on Tuesday and could provide investors an indication as to when the Fed will start reducing its US$85 billion-worth of monthly asset purchases.

Until the U.S. debt crisis this month, most investors thought the Fed’s so-called “tapering” of its stimulus program would start by December. Many now think it won’t start until Janet Yellen takes the chair in early 2014.

On the earnings front, McDonald’s earned $1.52 billion, or $1.52 per share, in the latest quarter. That compares with $1.46 billion, or $1.43 per share, last year. Analysts expected $1.51 per share.

Revenue rose two per cent to $7.32 billion, missing expectations of $7.33 billion and its shares were down 65 cents to US$94.54.

Toymaker Hasbro Inc. said third-quarter net income rose 17 per cent from a year ago to $193 million, or $1.46 per share. The quarterly results come as toy makers gear up for the holiday season, which can account for up to half their annual revenue.

Ex-items, Hasbro’s earnings were $1.31 per share, a penny above estimates. Revenue climbed two per cent to $1.37 billion, against estimates of $1.35 billion and its shares jumped $3.13 or 6.63 per cent to $50.37.

Traders will also consider earnings from Netflix during the day.

The gold sector led TSX advancers, up 1.45 per cent while December bullion rose $2.50 to US$1,317.10 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) rose 31 cents to C$19.38.

The base metals sector rose 0.56 per cent as December copper lost early momentum and was unchanged at US$3.30 a pound. HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) was ahead 12 cents to C$8.40.

Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX:TRQ) shares climbed a dime to $4.69 as a dispute between Chinese customs officials and customers of Rio Tinto’s huge Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia was resolved. Turquoise Hill says that a convoy carrying concentrate departed from the Chinese-border warehouse on Saturday and adds the withdrawal of concentrate from the Chinese-border warehouse by customers is expected to ramp up quickly. As revenue is recognized when customers collect concentrate, Oyu Tolgoi will now begin recording revenue. Rio Tinto owns 66 per cent of Turquoise Hill, which runs the mine.

The November crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 90 cents to US$99.91 a barrel amid rising supplies of crude and lower demand. The energy sector rose 0.26 per cent and Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) climbed 52 cents to $46.77.

Financials also provided lift with CIBC (TSX:CM) ahead 70 cents to $84.68.

Techs led decliners while BlackBerry (TSX:BB) shed 13 cents to $8.51.

European bourses were mixed with London’s FTSE 100 index ahead 0.3 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX slipped 0.04 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 lost 0.3 per cent.

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