Canada’s jobs market geared down in June - Canadanewsmedia
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Canada’s jobs market geared down in June

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Canada’s booming labour market geared down in June, with employment little changed and a slight uptick in the jobless rate from historical lows.

The economy shed 2,200 jobs on the month, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa, versus economist expectations for a gain of about 10,000. The unemployment rate rose to 5.5 per cent, after reaching a four-decade low of 5.4 per cent in May.

Even with the stall, the first half of the year was one of the best on record in terms of Canadian job gains.

Key Insights

The flat reading for employment in June doesn’t alter the picture of a labour market that remains the main driver of Canada’s expansion, with most economists widely expecting a slowdown from its recent unsustainable pace. The economy has added 247,500 jobs since the end of last year — the bulk of them full-time — which is the strongest since 2002 and the second-best first-half employment gain in four decades.

There were a number of pockets of strength in the report. Full-time jobs were up by 24,100, offsetting a decline in part-time employment. Self-employment fell, with the number of “employees” increasing.

Wage gains accelerated to the fastest in more than a year.The fact the labor market hasn’t pulled back should bolster confidence in the sustainability of the current economic rebound and ease pressure on the Bank of Canada to cut interest rates, even if other central banks ease policy.

Market Reaction

The Canadian dollar fell after the report, which coincided the release of U.S. payroll data that topped all estimates of economists. As of 8:34 a.m. in Toronto trading, the dollar was down 0.3 per cent to 76.37 US cents. Yields on Canadian two-year bonds were up however, reflecting easing worries about rate cuts.

“We’ll forgive Canada’s job market for taking an early summer holiday in terms of employment gains, given the massive surge in hiring that preceded it,” Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said in a note.

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The one area of weakness seems to be the goods sector, which saw employment contract 32,800 in June. Half of that came from manufacturers. Employment in goods-producing industries is down by 9,400 in the first six months of 2019.Wages, however, are showing signs of strength. Annual hourly wages gains accelerated to 3.8 per cent in June, the fastest since May last year and up from 2.8 per cent in May. Pay gains for permanent workers climbed 3.6 per cent, also a sharp increase. The year-over- year acceleration largely reflects weakness this time last year.Total hours worked accelerated to 1.8 per cent from 1 per cent in May, the most since last fall.

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Hudson’s Bay Company agrees to taken company private

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Hudson’s Bay Co. will go private in a deal valuing the Canadian retailer at $1.9 billion in a bid by a group of investors led by executive chairman Richard Baker to try their hand at reinvigorating the fading 349-year-old department-store chain.


Hudson Bay Company executive chairman Richard Baker

The board of Hudson’s Bay said it entered into an agreement with investors led by Baker after the group raised its offer price to $10.30 a share, up from $9.45 a share. It approved the offer after a recommendation by a committee of independent directors.

Hudson’s Bay shares rose 7 per cent to $10.11 at 9:35 a.m. in Toronto.

Attention will now turn to minority shareholders who came out against Baker’s earlier proposal. The company needs a majority of them to approve the new deal for it to go through.

Catalyst Capital Group and other investors had said Baker’s original offer undervalued a company that’s rich in real estate holdings. Representatives for Catalyst and for Jonathan Litt, an activist investor who’s also been critical of Baker, were not immediately available for comment.

“The special committee is confident that this transaction represents the best path forward for HBC and the minority shareholders,” David Leith, head of the special committee, said in a statement.

Baker and his investment group want full control of the retailer, which also owns Sak’s Fifth Avenue, to turn the business around outside the glare of public markets. While Saks has been the group’s bright star of late, the Canada-based Hudson’s Bay chain, the oldest company in North America, is removing 300 “unproductive” brands and bringing in another 100 in a turnaround effort.


Mannequins sit on display inside a Saks Fifth Avenue.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

A number of traditional retailers are struggling and closing stores as consumer preferences change and shoppers increasingly migrate online to competitors like Amazon.com Inc.

Department stores in particular have struggled to attract new consumers and maintain sales.

Luxury focused chains haven’t been exempt from the fallout: Barneys New York Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection in August amid rising rent costs and a decline in visitors. A consortium led by Authentic Brands Group LLC has been selected as its initial bidder, with the group planning to open Barneys shops inside Saks Fifth Avenue stores owned by Hudson’s Bay, Bloomberg reported on Oct. 16, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Hudson’s Bay has been trying everything to lower debt and stop its stock’s slide, most recently selling selling the operations of its Lord & Taylor department store chain to clothing rental subscription company Le Tote.

Chief executive Helena Foulkes, who was brought in last year, also sold flash-sale e-commerce site Gilt and cashed out of European operations.

The stock traded as high as $10.72 in August on expectations the bid would be raised. It was back at $9.45, the original offer price, at the end of last week. Over the last five years, the stock has lost about half of its value.

“It’s good to see that there’s a resolution with a good, formal take-private offer and a cash bid, and I think that should be a good resolution for a lot of people,” Greg Taylor, chief investment officer at Purpose Investments, said on BNN Bloomberg.

“Certainly a lot of people would have wanted a lot more from this but in the current dynamics around department stores in North America, I think this is probably as good as they could have hoped.”

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Energy regulator says crude-by-rail shipments fell to 310000 bpd

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The Canada Energy Regulator says exports of crude oil by rail from Canada fell slightly in August to 310,000 barrels per day from 313,000 bpd in July.

The August number is up 35 per cent from 230,000 bpd reported in August of 2018 but still well below the record high of 354,000 bpd set last December.

The small change in crude-by-rail shipments came despite a threat by Imperial Oil Ltd. CEO Rich Kruger to throttle back the company’s rail movements in August and September to protest the ongoing Alberta oil production curtailment program.

He says the program damages the economic case for crude-by-rail by artificially lowering the difference in oil prices between Alberta and the end market on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Imperial reported moving 80,000 bpd by rail in June. It co-owns an oil shipping rail terminal at Edmonton with capacity to load 210,000 barrels of crude per day.

Alberta has gradually eased the curtailment program designed to better align production with tight pipeline capacity from an initial withholding of about 325,000 bpd last January to 125,000 bpd in September.

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Hudson Bay Company agrees to pay more to shareholders for takeover bid

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Hudson Bay Company

The board of Hudson Bay Co. has agreed to a sweetened offer by a shareholder group led by executive chairman Richard Baker.

The retailer says the group has agreed to pay $10.30 per share in cash to take HBC private. The bid is up from an earlier offer of $9.45 per share.

The agreement values HBC at about $1.9 billion.

HBC says the price offered represents a premium of 62 per cent compared with where its shares were trading before the shareholder group’s initial privatization proposal in the summer.

The Baker-led group holds a 57 per cent stake in the retailer and includes Rhone Capital, WeWork Property Advisors, Hanover Investments (Luxembourg) and Abrams Capital Management.

The deal is subject to the approval by a majority of the minority of HBC shareholders, excluding the shareholder group and its affiliates, and approval by a 75 per cent majority vote at a special meeting of shareholders.

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