Banks may end 2011, start 2012, with a whimper

TORONTO (Reuters) – A volatile year for Canadian banking results is likely to end on a soft note, and the outlook for 2012 won’t inspire confidence as Europe’s debt troubles deepen and Canadian borrowers turn shy. Analysts expect percentage year-over-year profit gains in the mid-to-high single digits when the country’s big banks begin reporting this week. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, profits are expected to drop from the third quarter. Even so, with bank shares already at year-lows, even modest results could spark buying pressure, particularly if one or more of the banks raise dividends. …