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Sliding energy stocks, mixed earnings news push Toronto stock market lower

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TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed lower Thursday, depressed by earnings reports and sliding energy stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 110.37 points to 14,546.03, led by a 2.76 per cent drop in the energy sector.

There was no apparent reason for the tumble — data showed an unexpected decline in U.S. crude inventories last week while total commercial stock levels remained close to the record 399.4 million barrels seen for the previous week. Oil remained above the US$100 mark, with the June contract shedding 51 cents to US$100.26 a barrel and analysts suggested the slide was as much due to profit taking as anything else.

As of Wednesday, the sector had run up almost 17 per cent year to date, making it the best-performing TSX sector.

The Canadian dollar gained 0.61 of a cent to 92.4 cents US.

U.S. indexes were mixed as the Dow Jones industrials gained 32.43 points to 16,550.97.

The Nasdaq was down 16.18 points to 4,051.5 and the S&P 500 index slipped 2.58 points to 1,875.63.

On the corporate front, Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) is buying a 20 per cent stake in Canadian Tire’s financial services business (TSX:CTC.A) for $500 million in cash as part of a strategic partnership. Scotiabank shares rose 15 cents to $66.71 while Canadian Tire dipped 16 cents to $107.69.

"It’s a good deal," said Fred Ketchen, manager of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.

"Financing is a big deal and if you’re going to finance a lot of stuff, you have to have someone who will make a long-term relationship."

At the same time, Canadian Tire posted net income attributable to shareholders of $70.6 million, or 88 cents per share, down from $73 million, or 90 cents a share a year ago, which was five cents below analysts' forecasts. Revenue met expectations, rising 3.8 per cent to $2.57 billion.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (TSX:VRX) posted a quarterly net loss of $23 million or seven cents a share, compared with a loss of $27.5 million, or nine cents per share, a year ago. On a cash earnings per share basis, adjusted income was $600 million or $1.76 per diluted share, an increase of 35 per cent over the prior year and four cents ahead of estimates. Revenues jumped 77 per cent to $1.9 billion, up from $1.06 billion year-over-year and its shares fell $2.99 to $142.07.

Telus Corp. (TSX:T) was ahead 40 cents to $39.85 as the telecom reported a first-quarter net profit up 4.1 per cent from a year ago at $377 million or 61 cents per share, which met expectations. Revenue was up five per cent to $2.9 billion and exceeded expectations of $2.87 billion. Telus is also raising its dividend to 38 cents per share, an 11.8 per cent increase year-over-year.

Auto parts giant Magna International (TSX:MG) reported quarterly net income attributable to the company was $393 million and diluted earnings per share were $1.76, far below the $2.05 that analysts had expected. Sales were up seven per cent to $8.96 billion and its shares dropped $1.20 to $106.15.

The base metals sector led advancers, up one per cent amid data showing that China's exports rose 0.9 per cent during April from the previous year, compared with a 6.6 per cent decline in March. Imports also grew after a contraction in March but at a subdued level. July copper edged up three cents to US$3.06 a pound.

The gold sector faded about 0.84 per cent as June bullion fell $1.20 to US$1,287.70 an ounce.

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