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5 things to know before the US stock market opens Friday

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Desperately seeking Santa

Ho ho ho? More like, no no no. It’s been a terrible week for stocks, and hopes of a Santa Claus rally are fading. U.S. equities are on the verge of their second straight losing week. Markets fell steeply Thursday as investors digested Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s hawkish remarks and outlook from the day before. Sluggish retail sales heading into the holidays didn’t help, either, even though they indicated a slowing economy, which is what the Fed wants as it tries to beat back inflation. Instead, it’s shaping up to be an environment where the Fed keeps rates higher for a longer period of time, regardless of what happens in the next few months. Read live markets updates here.

2. Twitter targets journalists

STR | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Twitter suspended the accounts of several journalists and commentators who report on the company and its owner, billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk. As of Thursday night, the social media platform had suspended the accounts of Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept, Steve Herman of Voice of America, as well as independent figures Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann and Tony Webster. Musk, who has billed himself as a “free speech absolutist,” suggested on Twitter that the journalist suspensions were in the same vein of discipline against accounts that track flights, including one that followed the CEO’s private jet’s whereabouts.

3. U.S. squeezes Chinese chipmaker

Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer in this illustration picture taken February 25, 2022.
Florence Lo | Reuters

The Biden administration on Thursday unveiled restrictions against several, mostly Chinese entities, including a chipmaker, over national security concerns. The chip company, Yangtze Memory Technologies Corporation, or YMTC, was already on a U.S. trade blacklist. The action aims to hamper China’s ability to use “artificial intelligence, advanced computing, and other powerful, commercially available technologies for military modernization and human rights abuses,” according to a Commerce Department official. The move also comes as the administration attempts to beef up semiconductor manufacturing on U.S. soil.

4. Adobe delivers

Low-angle view of sign with logo on facade at office of computer software company Adobe in the South of Market (SoMA) neighborhood of San Francisco, California, June 10, 2019.
Smith Collection/gado | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Adobe posted quarterly earnings Thursday that topped analysts’ expectations, while the design software maker stuck with its forecast for the full fiscal year. The stock rose on the positive news, although it’s down more than 40% on the year, much steeper than the decline in the broad S&P 500 index. “We delivered record operating cash flows with a focus on profitability,” Adobe’s CEO, Shantanu Narayen, said on an earnings call. Yet he also warned that a slowing economy could hurt the company, and that Adobe would operate with caution.

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5. Flipped off

A not-so-surprising casualty of the rapid cooling in the housing market is the home-flipping segment. Profit from flips, defined as when a house is bought and sold within a 12-month window, fell 18.4% in the third quarter from the second. That’s the biggest quarterly decline in over a decade, according to real estate data provider ATTOM. It’s a double whammy for house flippers: home prices are still high, but they’re quickly easing, while renovation costs have also soared. “With demand from buyers weakening, prices trending down over the past few months, and financing rates significantly higher than they were at the beginning of the year, flippers face a much more difficult environment today, and probably will in 2023 as well,” Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at ATTOM, said in a release.

– CNBC’s Alex Harring, Kevin Breuninger, Jordan Novet and Diana Olick contributed to this report.

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name – Global News

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name  Global NewsView Full Coverage on Google News

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'Not telling us the truth': NSP customers complain utility isn't transparent about outages – CBC.ca

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‘Not telling us the truth’: NSP customers complain utility isn’t transparent about outages  CBC.caView Full Coverage on Google News

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Tiny wines find home in B.C.’s market, as Canadians consider reducing consumption

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VANCOUVER — Wine lovers have growing options on the shelf to enjoy their favourite beverage as producers in B.C. offer smaller container sizes.

Multiple British Columbia wineries over the last several years have begun offering their product in smaller, single-serve cans and bottles.

Along with making wine more attractive to those looking to toss some in a backpack or sip on the golf course, the petite containers leave wineries with options for a potential shift in mindset as Canadians discuss the health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.

Vancouver-based wine consultant Kurtis Kolt said he’s watched the segment of the wine industry offering smaller bottles and cans “explode” over the last several years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were meeting outdoors in parks and beaches and looking for something more portable to take with them.

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“You’re not taking a hit on quality, you know? In fact, if someone is only going to be having a glass or two, you’re cracking a can and it’s completely fresh, guaranteed,” he said.

It’s also an advantage for people who want to drink less, he said.

“It’s much less of a commitment to crack open a can or a small bottle or a smaller vessel than it is to open a bottle,” he said.

“Then you have to decide how quickly you’re going to go through it or end up dumping some out if you don’t finish it.”

Last month, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada saying no amount of alcohol is safe and those who consume up to two standard drinks per week face a low health risk.

That’s a significant change from the centre’s 2011 advice that said having 15 drinks per week for men and 10 drinks per week for women was low risk.

Health Canada has said it is reviewing the report.

Charlie Baessler, the managing partner at Corcelettes Estate Winery in the southern Interior, said his winery’s Santé en Cannette sparkling wine in a can was released in 2020 as a reduced alcohol, reduced sugar, low-calorie option.

“We’ve kind of gone above and beyond to attract a bit of a younger, millennial-type market segment with a fun design concept of the can and sparkling, low alcohol — all these things that have been recently a big item on the news,” he said.

Santé en Cannette is a nine per cent wine and reducing the alcohol was a way to reduce its calories, he said. The can also makes it attractive for events like a picnic or golf, is recyclable, and makes it easier for restaurants that might want to offer sparkling wine by the glass without opening an entire bottle.

At the same time, the lower alcohol content makes it an option for people who might want a glass of wine without feeling the same effect that comes from a higher alcohol content, he said.

“So the health is clearly one incentive, but I think more importantly, so was being able to enjoy a locally made product of B.C. from a boutique winery, dare I say, with a mimosa at 11 o’clock and not ruin your day,” he said.

Baessler said the winery has doubled production since the product was first released to about 30,000 cans a year, which they expect to match this year.

He said there’s naturally a market for the product but he doesn’t expect it to compete with the higher-alcohol wine.

“So this isn’t our Holy Grail. This is something that we do for fun and we’ll never compete, or never distract, from what is our core line of riper, higher-alcohol wine,” he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of B.C.’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents bars, pubs and private liquor stores, said the industry has seen a shift in consumers wanting options that are more convenient.

“It’s not a massive change in consumer behaviour but it is a definitely a noticeable one, which is why you see big companies responding to it,” he said.

Guignard said the latest CCSA report is creating an increased awareness and desire to become educated about responsible consumption choices, which is a good thing, but he adds it’s important for people to look at the relative risk of what they’re doing.

“If you’re eating fast food three meals a day, I don’t think having a beer or not is going to be the single most important determinant of your health,” he said.

“But from a consumer perspective, as consumer preferences change, of course beverage manufacturers respond with different packaging or different products, the same way you’ve seen in the last five years, a large number of low-alcohol or no-alcohol beverages being introduced to the market.”

While he won’t predict how much the market share could grow, Guignard said non-alcoholic beverages and low-alcoholic beverages will continue to be a significant piece of the market.

“I don’t know if it’s reached its peak or if it will grow. I just expect it to be part of the market for now on.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2023.

 

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

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