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Lower commodity prices trim 4Q profit at Spectra

HOUSTON (AP) -- Spectra Energy Corp. said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 26 percent, as the operator of natural gas pipelines and storage facilities was hurt by lower commodity prices.

Earnings rose in the company's U.S. transmission business. But other segments lost ground, including Spectra's transmission and processing in western Canada, which was hurt by lower volumes, lower propane prices and higher operating and maintenance costs.

Net income was $213 million, or 32 cents per share, for the October-December period compared with $289 million, or 44 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 6 percent to $1.35 billion from $1.43 billion year ago.

Analysts expected the company to earn 31 cents per share on revenue of $1.40 billion, according to a FactSet survey.

In December, the company announced it would pay $1.25 billion cash to buy a 1,700-mile oil pipeline system from Canada to Illinois. The Express-Platte system will move crude oil from western Canada to refineries in the U.S. Midwest and Rocky Mountains. The deal is expected to close during the first half of 2013.

The shares rose 27 cents to $28.25 in afternoon trading. They have traded in a 52-week range of $26.55 to $32.27.