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TSX declines amid falling mining stocks, mixed reception for bank earnings

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed lower Wednesday amid pressure from the mining sector and mixed earnings reports from two of the big Canadian banks.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 47.06 points to 14,610.96.

Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) raised its dividend by two cents to 78 cents per share as it reported a quarterly profit of $1.1 billion, up 12 per cent from a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share were $1.63, up 13 per cent from the same quarter last year and 10 cents ahead of estimates.

Its stock dipped 18 cents to $76.62, but the shares are still up about three per cent in the past week since the big banks starting reporting earnings.

Meanwhile, shares of National Bank (TSX:NA) were down $1.17 at $45.86 after it posted a second-quarter profit of $362 million, which was down 13 per cent from a year ago. Adjusted earnings were $1.05 a share, a penny higher than analyst estimates, and it raised its dividend four per cent. However revenue of $1.28 billion missed expectations for $1.34 billion.

The earnings from the two banks followed earlier reports from Royal Bank (TSX:RY), TD Bank (TSX:TD) and Scotiabank, which also beat expectations.

"I think the best word to describe our banks is resilient," said Allan Small, senior adviser at HollisWealth.

"As parts of the business start to slow down, they manage to find ways to invest in other areas to make up that slowdown," Small said.

CIBC (TSX:CM) posts quarterly earnings Thursday morning.

The Canadian dollar lost 0.12 of a cent to 91.95 cents US.

U.S. markets were lower as the Dow Jones industrials gave back 42.32 points to 16,633.18, the Nasdaq declined 12 points to 4,225.07 and the S&P 500 index was 2.13 points lower at 1,909.78.

July copper was unchanged at US$3.18 a pound and the base metals component 2.34 lost per cent.

The TSX gold sector was sharply lower for a second day, down 1.6 per cent per cent, while June gold was off $6.20 at US$1,259.70 an ounce.

Bullion had closed Tuesday at its lowest level since early February, amid an easing of concerns about Ukraine. Worries about higher inflation had also supported gold prices, but now economists are, if anything, more worried about deflation, particularly in Europe. At the same time, the costs of mining gold are rising, leaving analysts to wonder about what can take the gold sector higher after declining about 11 per cent this month.

"Inflation is starting to creep up a little bit but (it's) not an issue, interest rates are still low — there really is no catalyst to take the gold sector higher," Small said.

The energy sector was ahead 0.17 cent as July crude in New York slipped $1.39 to US$102.72 a barrel.

In other corporate developments Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TSX:VRX) shares gave back $2.93 to $138.11 as the company upped the cash portion its hostile takeover offer for Botox maker Allergan by $10 to US$58.30 a share. The stock portion of the offer remains the same at 0.83 of a Valeant share, valuing the proposal at $162.86 per share or almost $50 billion in total.

Meanwhile, Nestle says it is paying $1.4 billion in cash to Valeant for the rights to sell lip and wrinkle treatment Restylane and other skin products in the U.S. and Canada.

The Canadian Press

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