The Toronto Stock Exchange inched higher at midday Monday as commodities were buoyed by improved sentiment about the global growth story and a dividend announcement at corporate behemoth Apple Inc.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index remained in the green by 8.01 points by noon to 12,504.97, well off its highs of the day.
The Canadian dollar was up 0.27 cents at 101.09 cents U.S.
Commodity prices moved higher on improved confidence that the world economy is improving -- which would mean an increase in demand for resources -- as fears of European debt faded slightly and signals point toward a rebound in the U.S. economy.
Higher commodity prices sent the energy sector on the TSX higher, with shares in Suncor Energy up 42 cents to $33.34. The mining sector also gained, with shares in Teck Resources up 20 cents to $36.77.
In Canadian corporate news, trading in shares of grain handler Viterra Inc. was halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange as the company weighs potential takeover offers.
Viterra confirmed last week that potential bidders have come forward with offers to buy the company. It acknowledged at the time that any bidders would likely have to offer at least $16 per share, but warned it could make no assurance of a deal or what price might be offered. Its shares closed Friday at $16.21.
A deal involving Ivanhoe Energy and Ivanhoe Capital Finance Ltd. to amend a loan agreement could see company co-chairman Robert Friedland increase his stake in Ivanhoe Energy to 17.95% from 15.49%. It gives Friedland the right to convert each 96 cents of outstanding loan principal into one common share. Ivanhoe stock was unchanged at 95 cents a share.
On matters economic, Statistics Canada reported this morning that wholesale sales dipped 1.0% in January to $49.0 billion, due mostly to lower sales of cars, trucks and the parts to keep them going.
The TSX Venture Exchange skidded back 5.68 points to 1,600.49 while the Nasdaq Canada index remained 3.12 points higher to 422.04
In all, 10 of the 14 Toronto subgroups were up by midday Monday, with global base metals ahead 1.4%, information technology and industrials each advancing 0.7%.
The four laggards were weighed mostly by real-estate, off 0.5%, utilities, down 0.4%, and consumer discretionaries, down 0.2%.
In New York, after a year filled with uncertainty, 2012 has been a strong one for stocks so far. Stronger economic data has helped push the Dow up more than 8% since January.
That's where Monday's session lies, with little economic or corporate news on the docket.
The Dow Jones Industrials found its way into positive territory by noon, gaining 16.69 points to 13,249.30.
The S&P 500 tacked on 5.22 points to 1,409.39, while the Nasdaq added 20.65 points to 3,075.91.
But investors did get one sign of strength ahead of the opening bell Monday, when Apple said it would pay a quarterly dividend of $2.65 U.S. a share. The company will also buy back $10 billion U.S. of its own shares over the next three years.
Just last week, Apple's stock topped $600 for the first time ever, fueled by record iPhone and iPad sales growth. Shares jumped about 1.3% following the dividend/buyback announcement, remaining just shy of $600 U.S.
Also in focus were bank stocks, following reports that the Federal Reserve made some minor corrections to its stress test results. Citigroup shares gained almost 4% in morning trade.
Shares of Bank of America added 2%, topping $10 U.S. for the first time since August, before pulling back a bit.
Shares of Sprint Nextel fell 3.5% after Craig Moffett, an analyst at research firm Sanford C. Bernstein, downgraded the stock to "underperform." Moffett cited, among other issues, concerns about Sprint's ability to sell millions of iPhone given the high costs of network upgrades.
Starbucks will open its first Evolution Fresh juice bar on Monday in Bellevue, Wash., four months after the coffee giant acquired the juice business. Starbucks will also start distribution of the brand to grocery stores on Monday.
The advisory board of European shipper TNT Express said they are recommending that shareholders accept the terms of a $6.8-billion U.S. all-cash offer from UPS.
Shares of Domino's Pizza rose after the company announced a one-time dividend of $3 U.S. per share to be paid on April 2.
Economically speaking, housing will be in focus this week, with reports due on new home sales, housing starts and existing home sales.
On Monday, the National Association of Home Builders will release the March installment of its Housing Market Index. The index is expected to stand at 31 for March, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com, up from 29 last month.
While recent reports on the job market and the banking sector have given credence to beliefs that the economy is on the mend, the housing market is still struggling.
Last month, the National Association of Realtors said home prices fell to their lowest point in more than a decade in January.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 2.32% from 2.30% Friday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for February delivery gained 71 cents to $107.77 U.S. a barrel.
Gold for April added 80 cents to trade at $1,655 U.S. an ounce.