The Toronto stock market shook off early declines and registered a small gain late Tuesday morning while traders fretted over a delay in organizing a crucial installment of bailout money for Greece and the approaching “fiscal cliff” in the United States. The S&P/TSX composite index was up 11.05 points to 12,202.51 amid major corporate developments. Media and telecom company Quebecor Inc. (TSX:QBR.B) announced a restructuring program that will see its Sun Media arm cut 500 jobs and close two production facilities as it seeks to reduce annual costs by $45 million. Quebecor shares were up eight cents to $35.33 as it also posted quarterly net income of $18.6 million or 30 cents per share, down about 29 per cent from a year ago. Mining giant BHP Billiton is selling its diamonds business, including its stake in the Ekati diamond mine, to Harry Winston Diamond Mines Ltd. (TSX:HW) for US$500 million in cash. Harry Winston shares fell 30 cents to $13.15. The TSX Venture Exchange was down 5.82 points to 1,299.64. The Canadian dollar was up 0.02 of a cent from Friday’s close to 99.89 cents US. The dollar has been under pressure recently as nervous traders have bought into the safe-haven status of U.S. Treasuries and avoided riskier assets such as resource-based currencies. U.S. markets registered a solid gain after a wave of selling last week pushed all three major indexes down more than two per cent and the Dow Jones industrials gained 70.19 points to 12,885.27. The Nasdaq was 1.16 points higher at 2,905.42 while the S&P 500 index was ahead 7.31 points to 1,387.34. The looming end-of-year deadline over the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and the automatic launch of massive spending cuts also continued to cast a pall over markets. Economists reckon that such a scenario, dubbed a fiscal cliff, would take a big chunk out of economic growth, likely pushing the U.S. back into recession and taking other economies down with it. Worries over whether Republicans and Democrats can find common ground to avoid the cliff have punished markets, particularly since last Wednesday, the day after a U.S. election that left the White House with a Democratic president, the same party controlling the Senate while the Republicans kept a lock on the House of Representatives. Losses have been particularly severe on New York markets because of worries about higher dividend, capital gains and estate taxes with companies across all sectors taking a hit. “So if you are an investor and making a lot of money in Apple, for instance, you would be a seller today because if you don’t sell today, maybe next year when you go into the market you probably will be hit with a higher tax category on the capital gains,” said Sid Mokhtari, market technician at CIBC World Markets. “There’s a shift attitude in terms of let’s take profits now with a lower tax category and revisit everything next year.” Financial markets also focused on Greece after ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro failed to agree on how to put Greece’s bailout program back on track. The EU and the International Monetary Fund disagree on the timeline for bringing Greece’s debts down to a manageable level. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, wants to give Greece until 2022 to reduce its debt to 120 per cent of gross domestic product; but the IMF wants to stick to the original deadline of 2020. Giving Greece the extra time means the country would require about €33 billion in extra funding. Finance ministers will meet Nov. 20 to decide where that extra funding will come from. The consumer staples sector was the leading advancer as shares in Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. (TSX:SC) rose $1.29 to $42.41 as the pharmacy retailer saw its third-quarter net profit slip to $168 million from $172 million a year ago. Adjusted net earnings per share was 81 cents, up from 79 cents in the same year-earlier period and in line with analyst estimates. Same store sales were up 2.3 per cent. Sears Canada Inc. (TSX: SCC) reduced its net loss in the third quarter to $21.9 million, about half what the department store chain racked up last year. The loss amounted to 22 cents per share. Sears says its quarterly revenue was $1.03 billion, down about $76 million from a year earlier and its shares fell 54 cents to $11.93. The industrials sector was also positive with Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) ahead $1.69 to $92.79. Commodity prices were well off the worst levels of the session. The energy sector moved into positive territory as crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange narrowed early losses and was off five cents to US$85.52 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) gained 24 cents to $28.11. Financials also turned positive as Royal Bank (TSX:RY) climbed 49 cents to $56.40. The base metals sector led decliners, down 0.65 per cent as December copper shook off early losses to gain two cents to US$3.49 a pound. Inmet Mining (TSX:IMN) dropped $1.73 to $55.77. The gold sector was slightly lower as December bullion edged 60 cents higher to US$1,731.50 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) faded 19 cents to $43.25. European bourses also turned higher as London’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.23 per cent while Frankfurt’s DAX gained 0.19 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 was up 0.59 per cent.

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