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The close: TSX lower as Russian turmoil prompts caution

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin speaks with reporters in Brasilia on July 16, 2014. Volkswagen and McDonald’s are both citing tensions with Russia in advance of their earnings reports.

RIA NOVOSTI/REUTERS

The Toronto stock market closed lower Thursday amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine and in the face of Canadian bank earnings that beat expectations.

The S&P/TSX composite index lost 44.48 points to 15,558.17.

CIBC (TSX:CM) posted a quarterly net income of $921 million or $2.26 per share, compared with $878 million, or $2.13 per share, in the same quarter last year. Adjusted earnings were $2.23 a share, two cents ahead of estimates. However, there was some disappointment with results from its domestic retail business and its shares fell $2.28 to $103.23.

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TD Bank (TSX:TD) says its third-quarter net profit was $2.1 billion, or $1.11 per share, compared with $1.52 billion, or 79 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Adjusted net income was $2.16 billion, or $1.15 per share, beating estimates of $1.09. Total revenue was $7.5 billion compared with $7.1 billion year over year. TD shares dipped 44 cents to $57.38.

Both banks had been very close to 52-week highs before the results came out and the financials sector is still up 11 per cent year to date.

"What we've grown to recognize with the Canadian banks is that they are excellent operators of their model," said Brian Belski, chief investment strategist, BMO Capital Markets.

"We can nitpick on a cent here or there, I just don't think that's the right way to be thinking about this. You have a company that is generating cash and continuing on with their dividends, being prudent in terms of their operations — that's a company I want to own in my portfolio."

The Canadian dollar was up 0.07 of a cent to 92.19 cents US.

U.S. indexes were also lower, despite data showing the American economy turned in a better than expected performance in the second quarter.

The latest revision shows gross domestic product grew by 4.2 per cent, versus the original reading of four per cent. Economists had generally expected a dip to 3.8 per cent.

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The showing was a huge improvement from the first quarter, when GDP contracted 2.1 per cent, largely because of severe winter weather. But it also raised another round of speculation that such strong data could force the Federal Reserve to move up its timetable on raising interest rates.

The Dow Jones industrials fell 42.44 points to 17,079.57, the Nasdaq lost 11.92 points to 4,557.7 and the S&P 500 index was down 3.38 points to 1,996.74.

Caution was the watchword on markets after a top Ukrainian official said that two columns of tanks and military vehicles rolled into southeastern Ukraine from Russia on Thursday after Grad missiles were fired at a border post and Ukraine's overmatched border guards fled. And a senior NATO official said at least 1,000 Russian troops have poured into the country with sophisticated equipment, leaving no doubt that the Russian military had invaded southeastern Ukraine.

Investors looking for safe havens sent gold prices higher with the December contract up $7 to US$1,290.40 an ounce, pushing the gold sector up about 0.8 per cent.

Financials led decliners, down 0.8 per cent.

There was also weakness in the other resource sectors as the base metals group declined 2.2 per cent, while December copper was five cents lower at US$3.15 a pound.

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The energy sector gave back 0.11 per cent with October crude 65 cents higher at US$94.53 a barrel.

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