Toronto's main market looked set to end lower Tuesday afternoon, pressured by lagging commodities and as today’s U.S. budget talks over the so-called fiscal cliff put a damper on traders’ moods.
In corporate news, Bank of Montreal (TSE:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) Tuesday reported an increase in fourth-quarter profits as a sharp jump in wholesale banking income more than offset a weaker performance from its U.S. unit.
Canadian Western Bank (TSE:CWB) fell 2.24% after Tuesday reporting fourth-quarter earnings and revenues that rose on “very strong” loan growth, but which still missed analyst expectations.
Canadian Pacific (TSE:CP) (NYSE:CP) Tuesday announced that it intends to “explore strategic options” for its 660-mile main line track that spans several Midwest states in the U.S.
On the metals and mining front, Mawson Resources (TSE:MAW) (OTCPK:MWSNF) says it has started a 6,000 metre diamond drilling program its Rompas-Rajapalot project in Finland. The campaign forms the major part of a C$3.2 million company-wide 2013 winter exploration program through to the end of June next year.
Energy stocks weighed on the TSX Tuesday as energy services company ShawCor (TSE:SCL.A) led the declines, tumbling 15% after it said a sale of the company is highly unlikely at this time following a strategic review.
Late Monday, the company provided an update on its ongoing strategic review, and said that after careful consideration and analysis, the special committee and the board have decided that an "acceptable" sale, "while always a possibility, is highly unlikely at this time."
Elsewhere in energy, Progress Energy Resources Corp. (TSE:PRQ) and Malaysia's Petronas Tuesday said they are moving their proposed liquefied-natural-gas export terminal off Canada's west coast into the next phase of engineering.
Canadian Natural Resources (TSE:CNQ) (NYSE:CNQ) Tuesday unveiled its budget for 2013, with plans to spend between $6.9 billion in capital, while increasing production by nine per cent.
The oil and natural gas company, with the bulk of its operations in Western Canada, said just over half of 2013 total capital spending will be required to grow production and the remaining capital will be used for “longer-life, more sustainable assets that will generate significant incremental free cash flow in the future”.
The company's shares declined on concerns that the 10 per cent spending increase outlined for next year, as well as the rise in production it forecast, were too small.
Baytex Energy Corp. (TSE:BTE) Tuesday unveiled its 2013 budget, targeting oil growth of eight per cent, and allotting $520 million for exploration and development activities.
Turning to the junior resource sector, Vancouver-based Sunridge Gold Corp. (CVE:SGC) (OTCQX:SGCNF) unveiled Tuesday an initial NI 43-101 resource estimate for its Adi Rassi copper-gold deposit - the fifth deposit defined by the company on its Asmara project in Eritrea.
The junior mineral explorer reported an inferred mineral resource of 15.77 million tonnes at Adi Rassi, with an average grade of 0.54% copper and 0.33 grams per tonne (g/t) gold. Further expansion drilling is planned next year, it added.
Vancouver-based SilverCrest Mines (CVE:SVL)(AMEX:SVLC)(NYSE MKT:SVLC) unveiled Tuesday results of more drilling at its Santa Elena mine in Sonora, Mexico, which was designed to convert resources at the project into reserves.
Precious metal grades in the series of holes announced today ranged from 0.22 to 4.92 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, and between 28.0 to 277.4 g/t silver. Mineralized intervals ranged from 1 to 38.9 metres. Revised Santa Elena resources and reserves, along with the results of a pre-feasibility study for the expansion plan are expected in the first quarter of next year.
Montero Mining and Exploration (CVE:MON) said Tuesday that hydrometallurgical testwork represents a “significant step” in its efforts to reduce costs at its Wigu Hill rare earth project in Tanzania. Montero noted that the testwork achieved “good recoveries”, while “significantly reducing” reagent requirements allowing for potentially lower operating costs for processing the rare earths at Wigu Hill.
Transeuro Energy (CVE:TSU) believes there is significant value at its Beaver River shale asset in Canada despite the low natural gas prices there. The company said it has received farm-in interest from several parties and intends to pursue these “with commitment and strong resolve”.
Painted Pony Petroleum (CVE:PPY) says it has agreed to acquire certain assets in the Kobes area next to its core Montney project in northeast British Columbia from an unnamed independent oil and gas producer for $108 million.
The company said it believes the deal will add more than 200 potential liquids-rich locations within three prospective intervals of the Montney.
In analyst notes, NCP Northland Capital Partners has issued a note on DHX Media (TSE:DHX) after the company announced a number of license deals for its children’s series with networks in Australasia ahead of the Asia Television Forum. The firm has a "sector outperform" rating and $3 target price on the stock.