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Gun buyback plan and Sarah Cooper gets Netflix special: In The News for Aug. 13

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Aug. 13.

What we are watching in Canada …

Bloc Quebecois Yves-Francois Blanchet said Wednesday his party will force a confidence vote against the Liberal government this fall unless Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his finance minister and his chief of staff resign.

But the New Democrats don’t seem ready to back the effort and with 24 MPs, they have enough seats in the House of Commons to be the deciding factor in whether Canada moves toward a fall election in the middle of a pandemic.

Blanchet first made his threat Wednesday morning before a planned sitting of the hybrid House of Commons in Ottawa. He reiterated it later in the Commons, expressing disgust Trudeau hadn’t even bothered to show up.

Trudeau is on a two-week summer vacation with his family. Blanchet said in French that he had also been on vacation but chose to end it in time to be able to attend, and that Trudeau’s absence sealed the deal on pushing for a fall election.

“We have to ask, is this government still worthy of our confidence and they just gave us the answer,” Blanchet said in French, before storming out of the chamber in a dramatic huff. He later returned for the rest of the question period.

Blanchet earlier told reporters the revelations around the WE Charity controversy — as well as new details about a contract for the commercial rent-relief program that went to a company employing the husband of Katie Telford, who is Trudeau’s chief of staff — prove the Liberal government is no longer trustworthy.

Also this …

The federal government is turning to the private sector to design and possibly help run a massive buyback of newly prohibited firearms.

Public Safety Canada has invited 15 consulting firms to come up with a “range of options and approaches” for the planned program to compensate gun owners.

The Liberals outlawed a wide range of firearms in early May, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting.

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported.

In announcing the ban, the government proposed a program that would allow current owners to receive compensation for turning in the designated firearms or keep them through an exemption process yet to be worked out.

Sport shooters, firearm rights advocates and some Conservative MPs have questioned the value of the measures in fighting crime.

ICYMI (in case you missed it) …

Sarah Cooper, whose lip-sync parodies of President Donald Trump are an online sensation, is coming to Netflix with a variety special.

“Everything’s Fine,” starring the writer and comedian, will debut this fall, the streaming service said Wednesday.

Cooper is working with heavyweight talent on the special: Maya Rudolph is the executive producer and Nastasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”) is directing.

The show will include “vignettes dealing with issues of politics, race, gender, class, and other light subjects,” Netflix said, with guest performers taking part in short interviews, sketches and “more shenanigans.”

In her early Trump satiric video, “How to Medical,” an expressive Cooper silently mouthed along to the president’s musings about the possibilities of sunlight and disinfectant as coronavirus antidotes.

Cooper’s comedic how-to books include “100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings” and “How to be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings.”

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris delivered an aggressive one-two attack on the character and performance of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as they made their election case for the first time as running mates.

Biden, a 77-year-old white man, embraced the significance of naming the first Black woman to a major party’s presidential ticket, but he also focused on other attributes Harris brings to the ticket. He hailed the California senator, the 55-year-old former prosecutor who a year ago excoriated Biden on a primary debate stage, as the right woman to help him defeat Trump and then lead a nation facing crises in triplicate: a pandemic, wounded economy and long-simmering reckoning with racism.

Harris, Biden declared at a high school gymnasium in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, is “smart, she’s tough, she’s experienced, she’s a proven fighter for the backbone of this country.”

“Kamala knows how to govern. She knows how to make the hard calls. She’s ready to do this job on day one,” he said.

Reflecting the coronavirus pandemic, both candidates came onstage wearing protective masks in a high school gym with relatively few in attendance, not in a hall filled with cheering supporters as would normally be the case. Both spoke without masks but did not physically embrace.

Biden praised her experience vigorously questioning Trump administration officials in the Senate, and highlighted the historic nature of her pick, noting she’s the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Three people were killed and six others injured Wednesday when a passenger train derailed in northeast Scotland after heavy rain and flooding hit the area.

The train driver was believed to be among the dead, British Transport Police said. The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said that the train conductor was also believed killed. Formal identification has yet to take place. Six people were hospitalized, but their injuries are not considered serious.

Images from the scene show that several cars of the four-carriage train had left the tracks and one had tumbled down an embankment. Smoke was seen billowing from the wreck. Air ambulances and coast guard helicopters came and went as the rescue operation unfolded.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a police investigation aims to find out what caused the derailment and ensure “nothing like this happens again.”

“As I understand there was about a month’s worth of rainfall in a very short period which undoubtedly aggravated the problem there,” he added.

Torrential rain had caused flooding and travel disruptions in Scotland, and on Wednesday morning Network Rail Scotland tweeted warnings of a landslip affecting services in the area.

Also this…

Pakistan’s information minister said Wednesday he hoped that five new bills passed in Parliament aimed at curbing terror financing and money laundering will lead to the country’s removal from an international watch list.

Shibli Faraz commented hours after the National Assembly, the powerful lower house of Parliament, passed bills to meet goals set by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force in February. The goals included targeting individuals linked to money laundering and terror financing.

The Financial Action Task Force is a top anti-terrorism monitoring group.

The task force said in February that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still needed to do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism-related financiers.

Since then, Pakistan has detained and convicted several militants, including India’s most wanted man, Hafiz Saeed, who is now serving a five-year prison term.

Pakistan wants to get off the task force’s “gray list,” the colour code for countries that are only partially fulfilling international rules for fighting terrorism financing and money laundering. It was placed on the list by the task force n 2012 after concluding that Pakistan was not fully compliant with the standards for effectively combating money-laundering and terror financing. The group removed Pakistan from the gray list in 2015 because of its improvement in complying. However, it was added to the list again in 2018.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 13, 2020.



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Most actively traded companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange

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TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: 

Toronto Stock Exchange (16,198.97, down 47.75 points.)

Wallbridge Mining Co. Ltd. (TSX:WM). Materials. Unchanged at $1.21 on 36.7 million shares.

New Gold Inc. (TSX:NGD). Materials. Down four cents, or 1.59 per cent, to $2.47 on 24.5 million shares.

Baytex Energy Corp. (TSX:BTE). Energy. Down two cents, or 3.45 per cent, to 56 cents on 18.6 million shares.

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Down 21 cents, or 1.18 per cent, to $17.64 on 18.5 million shares.  

Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K). Materials. Up 78 cents, or 6.34 per cent, to $13.09 on 17.5 million shares.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ). Down 41 cents, or 1.74 per cent, to $23.16 on 15.6 million shares.  

Companies in the news:  

Kinross Gold Corp. — Shares in Kinross Gold Corp. rose on Friday after it announced it would introduce its first dividend in seven years in view of increasing gold production. The news comes as gold prices continue to hover at near all-time record heights above US$1,950 per ounce. Kinross last paid a dividend of eight cents per share in March 2013, suspending it a few months later due to an “uncertain gold price environment.” It says its board of directors has approved a three-cent-per-share quarterly dividend in view of production guidance that’s expected to increase by 20 per cent to 2.9 million gold equivalent ounces in 2023, as well as a downward trend in unit operating costs and capital expenditures.

Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. (TSX:IVN). Up seven cents or 1.2 per cent to $5.86. Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. is confirming a third death after an underground accident Monday at its Platreef mine development project in South Africa. The Vancouver-based company says the workers were killed when a “kibble bucket,” commonly used to haul water, ore or refuse to the surface, fell down a mine shaft, striking the side of a platform where four employees were conducting routine water-pumping activities. Ivanhoe initially reported two workers were killed in the accident while another was injured and a fourth was missing. The company says a rescue team who retrieved the bodies of the two dead miners on Friday also found the body of the missing fourth person, also deceased. The injured employee who was taken to hospital in Johannesburg is now expected to make a full recovery.

Air Canada (TSX:AC). Down $1.07 or 5.6 per cent to $17.98. Air Canada and WestJet have cancelled at least 439 flights so far this month, according to figures from flight data firm Cirium. The inordinately high number comes after airlines banked on a return of business travel and a continued uptick in leisure trips following months of profit loss, says John Gradek, who heads McGill University’s Global Aviation Leadership program. Now, carriers are cancelling the half-booked flights and consolidating passengers on remaining ones to cut costs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020.

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N.Y. Mayor Is Confident on Schools; London at Risk: Virus Update

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(Bloomberg) — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s confident students can return to schools at the end of September after two delays. Florida on Friday reported a low in positive Covid-19 tests last reached in early June.

Europe’s woes prompted London Mayor Sadiq Khan to threaten further measures to contain infections in the U.K. capital. Government estimates for England suggested 6,000 new infections per day in the community in the week ending Sept. 10, compared with 3,200 the previous week.

The European Union agreed with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc. to buy 300 million doses of any successful vaccine. Roche Holding AG said its Actemra drug reduced the need for ventilation in a third-phase clinical trial on hospitalized patients with Covid-19 and pneumonia.

Vienna, the Austrian capital, curtailed its ball season. Germany’s economy minister warned of the impact of further lockdowns.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases pass 30 million; deaths approach 950,000U.S. stands on verge of dark new milestone: 200,000 virus deathsWorst shipping crisis in decades puts lives and trade at riskThailand reports first coronavirus death since early JuneFrance warns virus ‘very active’ as cases tick up across EuropeIndian economy heads for double-digit plunge as virus spikes

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

Florida’s Positive-Test Streak at Lowest Since June (11:15 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 677,660 Covid-19 cases on Friday, up 0.5% from a day earlier, compared to an average 0.4% increase in the previous seven days. That’s a daily change of 3,204 cases, according to the health department report, which includes data through Thursday.

The new daily rate of people testing positive for the first time fell to 4.2% for Thursday, from 4.4% on Wednesday. The rate has been under 5% for seven consecutive days, a streak last matched in the period ending June 8.

Deaths among Florida residents reached 13,225, an increase of 1.1%, or 139.

Vienna Curtails Its Waltz-Celebrating Ball Season (10:50 a.m. NY)

Some of the best-known events of the Viennese ball season were canceled on Friday amid Austria’s surge in infections. There’s no decision yet about the world-famous Vienna Opera.

Physical distancing rules “are the opposite of a ball’s basic idea,” a spokeswoman for the Committee of the Viennese Traditional and Noble Balls was quoted as telling the APA newswire. The pandemic has hit the Austrian capital hard with a slump in tourism and conventions. Hotel bookings dropped by two thirds in the year through July compared with last year, according to the Vienna tourism board.

Portuguese Leader Pleads With Public (10:40 a.m. NY)

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa pleaded for people to use face coverings and follow distancing rules as new cases increase. “It’s not inevitable,” he said Friday. “We can stop this growth.”

The country is reporting the biggest rises in daily cases since April. There were 780 new cases in the latest 24 hour period, 10 more than on Thursday, taking the total to 67,176. Covid-19 patients in hospitals and intensive care fell.

Costa has said he wants avoid the “enormous cost” of lockdown measures adopted in March and April.

France Sport Teams Become Hotbeds (9:17 a.m. NY)

France’s soccer and rugby clubs have become hot spots for spread of the coronavirus after training and competition resumed following a summer break.

Since the end of July, health authorities have reported 88 Covid-19 clusters linked to sports clubs, most of them in the first two weeks of September, France’s public health agency said late Thursday.

U.K. Spread Accelerating With Lockdown Not Ruled Out (9:07 a.m. NY)

Boris Johnson’s government extended coronavirus restrictions across northern England and the Midlands, as ministers refused to rule out a short national lockdown to tackle a surge in infections.

Residents in parts of northwest England, the Midlands and West Yorkshire face measures including a ban on socializing with other people outside their own households, the Department of Health said on Friday.

For the U.K., the so-called R rate, or how many people each new Covid-19 case infects, is as high as 1.4, the government said, indicating the spread is accelerating.

De Blasio Vows Not to Take Easy Way of Remote Leaning (9:04 a.m. NY)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has confidence in his latest timeline for in-class learning and won’t “take the easy way” by instituting all-remote learning for the nation’s largest school district.

“Remote education is easier, it’s less helpful for our kids and our families, it sets them back and we’re not going to let that happen,” de Blasio said Friday in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

On Thursday, four days before all New York City schools were to reopen for in-person instruction, the mayor delayed classes for elementary schoolers until Sept. 29 and for middle- and high-school students until Oct. 1. The move, which followed an earlier delay that pushed the reopening to Sept. 21 from Sept. 10, frustrated parents and raised questions over whether the city would follow districts like Chicago and Los Angeles to start the year online.

Denmark Broadens Restrictions (8:35 a.m. NY)

Denmark is introducing a nationwide limit of 50 people on public gatherings and early closing times for bars and restaurants amid a record rise in Covid-19 cases.

From Saturday and until Oct. 4, businesses will be encouraged to let their employees work from home wherever possible. Citizens will be asked to limit their social circles, wear face masks in bars and restaurants and avoid public transport during rush hour, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference in Copenhagen.

Prague Closes Universities, Schools Still Open (7:17 a.m. NY)

The city of Prague ordered its universities to close for in-person learning after the Czech Republic reported a record jump in new coronavirus cases.

Starting next week, higher-education classes will move online in the city of 1.3 million people, Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib said on Twitter Friday. He said he had also wanted to close high-schools, but public-health officials rejected his proposal.

EU Seals Vaccine-Supply Deal With Sanofi/GSK (7:07 a.m. NY)

The European Commission announced a contract with drugmakers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline on the purchase of as many as 300 million doses of any successful Covid-19 vaccine.

The commission, the European Union’s executive arm in Brussels, said in late July it had concluded exploratory talks with Sanofi/GSK for the supply of that number of doses for EU countries. The deal is the second EU advance purchase agreement following one with AstraZeneca.

London Faces Restrictions (5:49 p.m. HK)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he will be announcing restrictions over the “next few days and weeks.” While keen to avoid a version of lockdown used in other parts of the country, such steps were still a possibility, he said, according to LBC.

Earlier on Friday, the Evening Standard reported a surge of Covid-19 cases in London. The capital has recorded about 25 cases per 100,000 over the last seven days, rising from 18.8, according to the report, which didn’t say how it obtained the information.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also warned of “hard and difficult decisions in the coming days.”

Ghana Data Traffic Surge (5:24 p.m. HK)

Demand for data spiked in Ghana as more people worked from home after the government imposed virus-related movement restrictions, rising by 50%, according to the head of Vodafone’s local unit.

While Ghana’s gross domestic product shrank 3.2% in the three months through June from a year earlier, its information and technology sector expanded 74.2%.

Myanmar Election Delay (4:35 p.m. HK)

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is under pressure to delay the November general elections as a resurgence in coronavirus cases has resulted in a strict lockdown across parts of the nation.

Opposition parties led by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party wrote to the Union Election Commission this week to demand the Nov. 8 poll be postponed.

Eastern European Records (4:10 p.m. HK)

Several eastern European nations published record numbers of infections on Friday as the pandemic continued to spread in a region that mostly avoided mass contagion earlier this year.

Czechs added 3,123 cases, more than eight times the peak in April, while Slovenia had 137 new confirmed infections before stricter regulations on wearing masks were set to kick in.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary, where the tally increased by 941 on Friday, said his cabinet will decide over the weekend whether to extend a moratorium on loan repayments.

First Thai Death Since June (4:09 p.m. HK)

Thailand reported its first death from coronavirus infection since June 2, two weeks after the nation ended a streak of 100 days without local transmission.

With the latest fatality, Thailand’s total death toll from the pandemic rose to 59. Earlier on Friday, the country reported seven imported Covid-19 cases, taking the total to 3,497.

Thailand, which was the first country outside China to detect the coronavirus, is among a handful of nations in the region which have managed to contain the pandemic.

French Official Warns Virus Still ‘Very Active’: (2:39 p.m. HK)

France’s daily coronavirus cases rose by more than 10,000 to the highest since the end of lockdown in May, with Health Minister Olivier Veran warning the disease “is again very active” in the country.

The uptick in French infections mirrors steady increases across Europe, with the number of new cases in Germany rising Friday by more than 2,000, the most since late April. Portugal on Thursday reported the most new infections in five months, with 770, while Spanish cases rose at a slower pace than the previous day but still by more than 4,500.

Health officials blame the increase on social gatherings, especially among younger people, and on travelers bringing the virus back from vacation. The upward trend threatens to derail Europe’s recovery from a collapse in activity in the second quarter, should governments be forced to further tighten restrictions on movement.

Roche Drug Reduces Ventilation Need for Trial Patients (1:52 p.m. HK)

Roche Holding AG said its Actemra drug reduced the need for ventilation in a third-phase clinical trial on hospitalized patients with Covid-19 and pneumonia. The patients who got the drug were 44% less likely to progress to ventilators, compared with others who just got the standard care, Roche said Friday.

Separately, the company said a new test it developed can quantitatively measure the level of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in patients who have been exposed to the virus.

Pakistan Sees Most Cases in Five Weeks (1:38 p.m. HK)

Pakistan reported 752 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the most in five weeks.

The country, which has the third-most cases in Asia, had seen new cases drop gradually over the past three months. Pakistan opened schools and marriage halls this month after it recently reopened most industries, including tourism.

Shipping Crisis Putting Lives, Trade at Risk (1:26 p.m. HK)

The coronavirus pandemic has shattered labor norms in the shipping industry, with violations of worker protections becoming common as countries remain wary of relaxing port and border restrictions.

Nearly 20% of the world’s 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea, but industry officials say their options are limited as changing immigration rules and limited air travel make it difficult and expensive to swap out workers.

If the crisis isn’t resolved soon it threatens to ripple up the supply chain, affecting commodities companies and retailers just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Germany’s New Cases Highest Since April (1 p.m. HK)

Germany recorded more than 2,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time since late April, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

There were 2,179 new infections in the 24 hours through Friday morning, up from 1,855 a day earlier and the most since April 24. That’s still well below daily gains of almost 7,000 seen at the height of the outbreak in late March and early April.

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European Stocks Fluctuate, U.S. Futures Steady: Markets Wrap

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(Bloomberg) — Stocks in Europe fluctuated and U.S. futures were mixed as investors settled into a holding pattern while awaiting new catalysts. Treasuries nudged higher and the dollar slipped.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was little changed after opening modestly lower, with the gauge weighed down by declines in travel and leisure shares on the threat of wider restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus. U.K. pub and restaurant stocks also fell amid reports Britain may extend curbs after clamping down on social gatherings of more than six people.

S&P 500 futures were steady after the underlying index dropped for a second day. Contracts on the Nasdaq 100 rose, while those on the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined.

Although activity on major gauges was modest, there were bigger moves in single-name stocks including those swept up in a bout of M&A. London Stock Exchange Group Plc rose as it entered exclusive talks to sell Borsa Italiana to Euronext NV and two Italian institutions. Ericsson AB climbed 2% after it agreed to buy CradlePoint Inc., a U.S. provider of wireless solutions. German plastics maker Covestro AG gained more than 9% after Bloomberg reported it’s being targeted by buyout firm Apollo Global Management Inc.

Meanwhile, Roche Holding AG advanced after saying its Actemra drug reduced the need for ventilation in patients with Covid-19.

Investors are on the lookout for more U.S. fiscal stimulus after the Federal Reserve indicated this week that interest rates will stay low for years to come. Data continues to show a patchy recovery path around the world as coranavirus infections surge across Europe after governments eased restrictions. France’s daily cases rose by more than 10,000 to the highest since the end of lockdown in May.

“The market is somehow uninspired following recent central bank meetings,” said Robert Greil, chief strategist at Merck Finck Privatbankiers AG. “It is waiting for the next support step, be it from their side or regarding the U.S. fiscal program to be agreed finally.”

Elsewhere, gold climbed. Crude oil hovered around $41 a barrel and is up almost 10% this week.

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

Futures on the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.1% as of 10:55 a.m. London time.The Stoxx Europe 600 Index increased 0.1%.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1%.The euro increased 0.1% to $1.1859.The British pound gained 0.1% to $1.2987.The Japanese yen strengthened 0.4% to 104.31 per dollar.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined one basis point to 0.67%.The yield on two-year Treasuries climbed less than one basis point to 0.14%.Germany’s 10-year yield fell one basis point to -0.50%.Japan’s 10-year yield dipped less than one basis point to 0.015%.Britain’s 10-year yield declined one basis point to 0.179%.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 0.3% to $41.09 a barrel.Brent crude increased 0.4% to $43.47 a barrel.Gold strengthened 0.5% to $1,954.47 an ounce.

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