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TSX closes little changed after U.S., Europe impose tough sanctions on Russia

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed little changed Tuesday after the U.S. and European Union adopted tough new sanctions on Russia over that country's continued support of Ukrainian rebels, who have been blamed for the downing of an airliner by a missile earlier this month.

The TSX had spent most of the session well into positive territory thanks in part to positive earnings news and data that showed a marked improvement in U.S. consumer confidence but the S&P/TSX composite index closed up 1.33 points to 15,446.55.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.5 of a cent to 92.09 cents US.

New York markets were lower as traders considered new measures that specifically target sectors of the Russian economy, including energy, weapons and finance. Also, Russian state-owned banks will be banned from selling bonds or equities with a maturity of over 90 days in European capital markets.

New York's Dow Jones industrials dropped 70.48 points to 16,912.11, the Nasdaq was down 2.21 points to 4,442.7 and the S&P 500 index shed 8.96 points to 1,969.95.

Indexes had earlier advanced after the U.S. Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 90.9 in July — the highest level since October 2007.

WestJet (TSX:WJA) was a major gainer on the TSX, up $1.07 or 3.9 per cent to $28.49 as the airline beat forecasts for profit and revenue as it posted net earnings of $51.8 million, or 40 cents per share, up from C$44.7 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier.

George Weston Ltd. (TSX:WN) reported a quarterly net loss of $208 million, or $1.71 per share, compared with a net profit of $97 million, or 68 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013 as it digests the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart by subsidiary Loblaws. Total sales were $10.59 billion compared with $7.52 billion and its shares advanced $1.13 to $86.96.

And Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) posted a loss of $237 million, or 23 cents per share, compared with a profit $97 million, or nine cents, per share in the same quarter of 2013. Its shares added 21 cents to $11.93.

It is a very heavy week for Canadian corporate earnings news, with the accent on the resource sector. However, with the energy sector up 18 per cent so far in 2014, further gains could be elusive.

"I think with oil trading around $100, with all the geopolitical risk out there keeping the oil price firm, that most of the good news is already in the energy name," said Paul Taylor, chief investment officer, asset allocation, for BMO Global Asset Management Canada.

A major decliner in New York was Herbalife Ltd. The seller of supplements and weight loss products on Monday reported quarterly profit that decreased by 17 per cent. Its shares plunged 13.4 per cent to US$58.42.

The tech sector fell 0.8 per cent with BlackBerry (TSX:BB) down 43 cents or four per cent to $10.32 as the company said that it will acquire anti-eavesdropping security firm SecuSmart for an undisclosed amount. The German company provides high-level voice and data encryption.

The base metals sector was up 0.9 per cent while September copper eased two cents to US$3.22 a pound.

The TSX energy sector slipped 0.17 per cent with the September crude contract in New York down 70 cents to US$100.97 a barrel.

The gold sector declined 0.26 per cent as August bullion faded $5 to US$1,298.30 an ounce.

The Canadian Press

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