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Air Transat to suspend all flights from Toronto, some Montreal routes until April 30 – The Globe and Mail

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Air Transat aircraft sit on the tarmac at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport on April 8, 2020.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

In a move it blames on tighter restrictions imposed by Ottawa, Transat AT Inc. is halting all flights out of Toronto and some from Montreal for the remainder of the winter travel season.

The route cuts will begin Thursday and last until April 30, Transat spokeswoman Debbie Cabana said.

“Continued travel restrictions and the numerous measures imposed by the federal government, including the requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test and to quarantine upon return to Canada, have had a significant impact on our bookings,” she said.

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The cancelled routes in Toronto include flights to Cancun, Mexico; Holguin, Cuba; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Varadero, Cuba; Porto, Portugal; and Lisbon, Portugal, Cabana said.

In addition to those flights, Cabana added that Transat is cancelling its flights from Montreal to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Varadero.

The airline notified travel agents of the cancellations in a memo Wednesday, which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

Passengers who paid for their flight or vacation package with cash or credit card will receive a full refund. Passengers currently at their destinations will be rebooked on flights returning to Canada, the memo says.

Transat’s cancellations come just two weeks after Air Canada announced it would lay off 1,700 workers and cut more routes amid a challenging business environment for the aviation industry.

The federal government has cracked down on international travel in recent weeks, implementing a new requirement in January that all travellers seeking to enter Canada provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the federal government is contemplating further restrictions, prompted by the arrival of more contagious strains of COVID-19 in Canada from abroad.

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Mr. Trudeau this past weekend reiterated his call for Canadians to cancel any vacations they may have booked, warning that people who travel abroad could face difficulties returning home.

Quebec Premier François Legault has called on Ottawa to go further by banning non-essential travel completely or requiring that new entrants to Canada quarantine in a hotel at their own expense. Similarly, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has called for a temporary ban on flights to Canada from destinations where new variants of COVID-19 have been discovered.

Canada’s airlines have criticized the government’s travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic, arguing that the mandatory 14-day quarantine is overly strict and should be replaced with a testing program at airports.

The airlines have also said the restrictions were rolled out without co-ordination with the industry, leading to confusion and difficulties for passengers. Since the COVID-19 testing mandate went into effect on Jan. 7, airlines have prevented hundreds of Canadians from boarding flights abroad because they did not produce an acceptable test result.

Allison St-Jean, a spokeswoman for Transport Canada, reiterated that Ottawa is committed to assisting airlines and noted that the government is still in negotiations with airlines to develop a financial aid package.

“We are closely following the difficult and unprecedented situation that has unfolded from the heath crisis we are all living through, and that is having a particular impact on this critical sector of the Canadian economy,” Ms. St-Jean said.

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Some Quebecers won't have their power back until this weekend, Hydro-Québec says – CBC.ca

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Hydro-Québec says crews are still working on restoring power to more than 80,000 customers in the province and that it could take until this weekend to get everyone back on the grid. 

Thousands of residents have been left in the dark since Saturday following a fierce spring storm that swept across large swaths of the province, downing trees and power lines. 

The most affected region remains the Laurentians, where roughly 50,000 customers are still without electricity.  As of Wednesday afternoon, some 18,000 customers in the Lanaudière were without power and more than 15,000 in the Outaouais.

At a news conference Wednesday in Morin-Heights, a small, hard-hit town in the Laurentians, Hydro-Québec president and CEO Sophie Brochu said crews are working “as quickly as possible” to restore power to all households. 

“We will not leave until everyone has been reconnected,” she told reporters. 

WATCH | Hydro-Québec president explains when power will be restored: 

Crews are working ‘as fast as we can,’ says Hydro-Québec president

8 hours ago

Duration 0:45

Sophie Brochu says more crews are expected to be deployed to remote regions to help restore power to affected households, with the goal of being “really far” into the process as of Saturday.

Brochu said the public utility has about 700 crews — or 1,400 people — working around the clock, including crews from private contractors, regions that haven’t been affected by the outages and even some from New Brunswick. 

Régis Tellier, vice-president of operations and maintenance at Hydro-Québec, said he hopes to have 50,000 customers reconnected by the end of the day, “but we cannot hope to reconnect all customers before Friday, perhaps even beyond.”

Residents kept in the dark, says mayor

Morin-Heights was battered by Saturday’s storm. Trees were seen toppled over cars and on roofs, and power lines littered the streets.

Mayor Tim Watchorn said as of Wednesday, 75 per cent of residents are still without power. And while the public utility is urging patience, he said people in the community are starting to feel frustrated.

“[Hydro-Québec] can’t give us a timeline as of now,” he said. “People find it difficult not knowing.”

Mayor Tim Watchorn says 75 per cent of Morin-Heights residents are still without power. (Marika Wheeler/CBC)

Because many residents rely on wells, even showering and using the washroom is impossible for some. With no internet, phones or stoves, many are left feeling cut off from the world.

“It’s hard to not know what’s happening and when you’re going to get your power back,” Watchorn said. 

Chalet Bellevue, the local community centre, has been transformed into an emergency shelter since the weekend storm.  A generator has been hooked up allowing people to charge their phones, cook, get water and take showers.

On Wednesday, Patricia Clark was at the community centre trying to download books to read on her iPad. She was grateful to finally plug back in since she hasn’t had power in her home since Saturday afternoon.

“It was very painful throwing out everything in the fridge and the freezer … but Morin-Heights has been excellent though, they give you, you know, everything.”

Downed trees, terrain causing delays 

Hydro-Québec says the size of the affected area is a key reason for the delays in getting the light backs on. 

The violent storm hit a portion of territory 300 kilometres long by 100 kilometres wide, according to Brochu, ranging from the Outaouais to Quebec City.

She said half a million customers lost power within three to four hours and more than 554,000 customers were without electricity at the height of the event. 

“It was crazy,” she said. “Since the ice storm, that’s pretty much the biggest event we’ve seen.” 

Brochu said the complex nature of the work to be done in some regions could also pose risks and create complications, causing further delays. 

Some 700 Hydro-Québec crews, or 1,400 people, are working to restore power across the province.

Crews must remove power lines that have fallen to the ground under the weight of uprooted trees, replace hundreds of poles and navigate difficult terrain that sometimes prevents work trucks from getting to the affected areas, she said. 

Brochu said repairs in remote areas only restore service to a small number of customers at a time, hence the plateau in the number of customers regaining power. 

“We know you’re there, we’re going to work as hard and as fast as we can,” she assured residents. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 470,000 customers had had their power restored. The power is back on for all households in the Mauricie, Quebec City and Montreal regions.

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Stock market news live updates: Stocks end choppy session higher after FOMC minutes – Yahoo Canada Finance

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U.S. stocks pushed higher at the close of a choppy session on Wednesday as investors considered a slew of company warnings on the impact of inflation to earnings alongside the Federal Reserve’s latest communications about using their policies to rein in rising prices. The Fed’s May meeting minutes reaffirmed that central bank officials saw additional 50 basis point rate hikes as appropriate over the next couple meetings.

The S&P 500 wobbled but then gained Wednesday afternoon after the release of the Fed minutes, which also noted that more aggressive tightening and “a restrictive stance of policy may well become appropriate depending on the evolving economic outlook and risks to the outlook.” The Dow and Nasdaq each also rose. Treasury yields mostly declined, and the benchmark 10-year yield fell to hold just above 2.75%.

Investors this week have also eyed a growing list of companies citing the effects that inflation have had and will have on results going forward. Retailers including from Walmart and Target last week to Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) and Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) this week slashed their earnings forecasts for the year as the companies absorbed rising goods and transportation costs. And elsewhere, Snap (SNAP) warned earlier this week that it would post weaker-than-expected sales and profit results this year as the macroeconomic environment “deteriorated further and faster than anticipated.” This was taken as a harbinger of softer results for a bevy of ad-driven tech stocks, sending the Nasdaq Composite to its lowest close since Nov. 2020 on Tuesday.

As the grim company guidance piles up, Wall Street has been looking for signs that the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes and monetary policy tightening will achieve bringing down inflationary pressures. The Fed’s minutes from its early May meeting Wednesday afternoon reaffirmed that most monetary policymakers were considering rolling out additional 50 basis point rate hikes at the next two Fed meetings. The Fed raised rates by 50 basis points earlier this month for the first time since 2000, after having raised rates by just 25 basis point earlier this year.

“The challenge right now is we’re in this new chapter of the inflation story. If you’ll recall, last year it started with whether it’s transitory — turns out, it wasn’t. Then it became about the Fed at the end of last year and earlier this year, whether or not they would tighten significantly. And they did, and now all that’s priced in,” James Liu Clearnomics founder and CEO, told Yahoo Finance Live. “And now what the market is looking at is are basically the fundamentals around how inflation affects corporate profitability and consumer demand.”

And beyond the domestic concerns, a myriad of international concerns — from Russia’s war in Ukraine, to China’s ongoing COVID outbreak — have further infused volatility into the market.

“The Fed can’t really do anything about what’s going on between Russia and Ukraine, they can’t really do anything about China’s COVID zero policies … and a lot of traders are starting to get concerned,” Shawn Cruz, TD Ameritrade head trading strategist, told Yahoo Finance Live.

“The way the market to me is reacting to that, is one, there’s de-leveraging going on. There are some liquidation events out there as well, and that is one of those ‘selling begets more selling’ type of environments. And then the other one is, there’s just not enough confidence out there to come in there and meaningfully put money back to work,” he added. “Once you start to see leverage start going back up, cash coming in from the sidelines, that to me would be an indication that there is at least a little bit more certainty in the outlook for a lot of these people on the sidelines to come back in.”

4:05 p.m. ET: Stocks end choppy session higher after Fed minutes: Nasdaq gains 1.5%, Dow adds 192 points, or 0.6%

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:05 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +37.25 (+0.95%) to 3,978.73

  • Dow (^DJI): +191.66 (+0.60%) to 32,120.28

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +170.29 (+1.51%) to 11,434.74

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.97 (+0.88%) to $110.74 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$11.80 (-0.63%) to $1,853.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.1 bps to yield 2.7490%

2:15 p.m. ET: Fed minutes show support for another two half-point rate hikes while adding ‘a restrictive stance of policy’ could become appropriate

The Federal Reserve’s latest meeting minutes Wednesday afternoon reaffirmed Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s prior assertions that the central bank was weighing two more half-point rate hikes.

“Most participants judged that 50 basis point increases in the target range would likely be appropriate at the next couple of meetings,” according to the minutes. “Many participants assessed that the Committee’s previous communications had been helpful in shifting market expectations regarding the policy outlook into better alignment with the Committee’s assessment and had contributed to the tightening of financial conditions.”

The Fed left room for further policy decisions to be informed by incoming data on the economy, which has recently softened. However, it also emphasized that its primary goal remained on bringing down inflation, and that as a result, a “restrictive stance of policy” could be needed.

“Participants agreed that the economic outlook was highly uncertain and that policy decisions should be data dependent and focused on returning inflation to the Committee’s 2% goal while sustaining strong labor market conditions,” the minutes noted. “At present, participants judged that it was important to move expeditiously to a more neutral monetary policy stance. They also noted that a restrictive stance of policy may well become appropriate depending on the evolving economic outlook and the risks to the outlook.”

11:11 a.m. ET: Stocks extend gains, Nasdaq rises by 1%

Here were the main moves in markets as of 11:11 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +23.35 (+0.59%) to 3,964.83

  • Dow (^DJI): +87.30 (+0.27%) to 32,015.92

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +110.02 (+0.98%) to 11,374.47

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.22 (+0.20%) to $109.99 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$17.20 (-0.92%) to $1,848.20 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.9 bps to yield 2.7510%

9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks open lower before shaking off losses

Here were the main moves in markets as of 9:31 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -9.53 (-0.24%) to 3,931.95

  • Dow (^DJI): -114.27 (-0.36%) to 31,814.35

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -22.24 (-0.20%) to 11,242.21

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.89 (+0.81%) to $110.66 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$13.90 (-0.75%) to $1,851.50 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.6 bps to yield 2.7340%

9:12 a.m. ET: Durable goods orders disappoint in April

U.S. durable goods orders decelerated in April and were downwardly revised in March, offering an at least early sign that businesses may be pulling back on investments as economic uncertainties mount.

Orders for durable goods, or manufactured products intended to last at least three years, rose by 0.3% in April compared to March, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. This came in below the 0.6% rate consensus economists were expecting, according to Bloomberg data. In March, durable goods orders rose by 0.6%, with this rate revised down from the 1.1% previously reported.

Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft also missed expectations, rising by 0.3% in April versus the 0.5% anticipated. This metric rose by 1.1% in March, and serves as a closely watched proxy for business investment. Still, non-defense capital goods shipments excluding aircraft, which factors into GDP, rose by a better-than-expected 0.8% last month.

“It’s entirely possible that the recent slowing is nothing more than a temporary reaction to the spike in energy prices; firms might be waiting to see how consumers respond,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in an email about the report. “So far, we see no evidence of any hit — housing excepted — but we also can’t rule out the idea higher rates are directly causing some capex [capital expenditures] to be deferred, even though firms are sitting on huge piles of cash accumulated during the pandemic.”

“For now, a decent increase in capital spending on equipment in the second quarter seems assured, given the lags from previous strength in orders, but the outlook for H2 has become a bit more cloudy,” he added.

7:55 a.m. ET: Dick’s Sporting Goods becomes latest retailer to slash full-year outlook given ‘evolving macroeconomic conditions’

Dick’s Sporting Goods shares sank by more than 14% Wednesday morning after the retailer became one of the latest to lower its full-year earnings and sales guidance as economic uncertainty resurged.

The sporting goods retailer said it now sees adjusted earnings totaling between $9.15 and $11.70 per share for the 2023 fiscal year, with this range coming in well below the $11.70 to $13.10 a share seen previously. Comparable store sales will likely fall between 2% and 8% this year, the company added, compared to a prior outlook for sales to come in between unchanged and down 4%. Dick’s Sporting Goods said it updated its outlook “to reflect the impact of evolving macroeconomic conditions,” according to its earnings release Wednesday morning.

Following the release, the stock was on track to post a sixth straight day of losses, or its longest losing streak since early Dec. 2021, as shares fell in sympathy with other major retailers over the past week.

7:23 a.m. ET: Stock futures edge lower

Here’s where markets were trading Wednesday morning:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -5.25 points (-0.13%) to 3,935.25

  • Dow futures (YM=F): -55 points (-0.17%) to 31,825.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -9.5 points (-0.08%) to 11,761.50

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.47 (+1.34%) to $111.24

  • Gold (GC=F): -$14.10 (-0.76%) to $1,851.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.6 bps to yield 2.734%

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 23: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on May 23, 2022 in New York City. After a week of steep losses, markets were up in Monday morning trading.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 23: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on May 23, 2022 in New York City. After a week of steep losses, markets were up in Monday morning trading.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 23: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on May 23, 2022 in New York City. After a week of steep losses, markets were up in Monday morning trading. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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Bankers buck gloomy trend by forecasting growth amid concerns about economic slowdown – The Globe and Mail

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Bank of Montreal reported a modest increase in second-quarter profit on Wednesday.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Top executives at two major Canadian banks predict they can keep adding new loans and increasing profits in the coming quarters, offering an optimistic outlook for the financial sector that is at odds with economists’ increasingly gloomy forecasts of a downturn ahead.

Bank of Nova Scotia BNS-T and Bank of Montreal BMO-T both reported higher second-quarter profits on Wednesday, underpinned by robust demand for personal and commercial loans as well as lower loan loss reserves than analysts anticipated. Profits increased 12 per cent compared with those in the same quarter a year earlier at Scotiabank, and 4 per cent after adjustments at BMO, as rising interest rates helped increase margins on loans.

Growth slowdown fears temper bullishness on commodity currencies

Canada considers new measures to protect economy from national security threats

That marked a strong start to the major banks’ earnings season, but analysts cautioned those results, which cover the three months ended April 30, already look distant in the rear-view mirror. They pressed senior executives about how the banks are bracing for a deteriorating economic environment marked by war in Ukraine, high inflation, rapid central bank rate hikes and the increasing prospect of a recession that could curb customers’ appetite to borrow.

Bank chief executives and finance chiefs stressed they still expect economies to grow as COVID-19-related headwinds ease. They noted that most households are in good financial health, as many stashed away extra savings during the pandemic, while unemployment remains low in a tight labour market. Businesses are borrowing to bulk up inventories as demand for products outstrips supply, and some sectors, such as commodities, are booming.

“The macroeconomic backdrop for our key geographies remains positive,” said Scotiabank chief executive Brian Porter, on a conference call with analysts on Wednesday. “Despite the macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainties in recent months, we are encouraged by the resilience of our businesses.”

The mood among economists is much more downbeat as the threat of a global recession mounts, even though few are predicting that is highly likely. The tone has also been sombre as business leaders and policy makers rub elbows at the World Economic Forum’s gathering in Davos. And the former governor of Canada’s central bank, Stephen Poloz, recently predicted the country is heading for a period of stagflation – a mix of slow growth and high inflation.

Yet increases in banks’ loan balances have been broad-based, and BMO chief financial officer Tayfun Tuzun said in an interview that he still expects “high-single-digit loan growth” year over year – the same guidance he gave three months ago.

“All in all our clients are telling us that they’re still interested in investing in their businesses,” said Mr. Tuzun. He added that there are “a lot of good indicators for what’s to come” for the bank.

A particular bright spot is commercial lending in Canada, where loan balances rose 13 per cent at BMO and 19 per cent at Scotiabank in the second quarter. Scotiabank’s chief financial officer, Raj Viswanthan, said corporate clients and consumers have “very strong” balance sheets at the moment, “so we see a lot of pent up demand.”

Mortgage balances rose 16 per cent year over year at Scotiabank, benefitting from the tail end of a red-hot streak for housing markets.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

The disruptions caused by COVID-19 and war in Ukraine have also increased demand in key areas, Mr. Viswanathan said. “It’s supply chain issues, it’s the rise of e-commerce, it’s the demand for food.”

Bankers aren’t blind to the gathering economic storm clouds. BMO chief risk officer Pat Cronin said his bank is giving greater weight to a hypothetical scenario that predicts the impact of a severe downturn, and has lowered expectations for parts of its forecast it considers the base case.

When U.S. banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. hosted an investor day this week, chief executive Jamie Dimon summed up the outlook as, “strong economy, big storm clouds,” saying those clouds “may dissipate. If it was a hurricane, I would tell you that.” But he acknowledged “they may not dissipate, so we’re not wishful thinkers.”

The Bank of Canada published a paper this month that suggests the country’s banks are strong enough and well capitalized to withstand even a severe, prolonged downturn in which unemployment peaks at 13.5 per cent and house prices fall 29 per cent.

Gabriel Dechaine, an analyst at National Bank Financial Inc., wrote to clients that, “in a normal environment, such optimism would be met with positive expectations for stock price appreciation,” but he remains “more cautious … as long as the disruptive forces of inflation that heighten recession expectations persist.”

In the fiscal second quarter, Scotiabank earned $2.75-billion, or $2.16 per share, compared with $2.46-billion, or $1.88 per share, in the same quarter last year. Adjusted to exclude certain items, Scotiabank said it earned $2.18 per share, well above the consensus estimate of $1.98 per share among analysts, according to Refinitiv.

In the same quarter, BMO earned $4.76-billion, or $7.13 per share, compared with $1.3-billion, or $1.91 per share, a year earlier. After adjusting to exclude one-time items that include a $2.6-billion gain on a financial instrument tied to BMO’s US$16.3-billion acquisition of California-based Bank of the West, profit was $2.187-billion, or $3.23 per share. On average, analysts expected $3.24 per share on an adjusted basis.

Former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz recently predicted the country is heading for a period of stagflation – a mix of slow growth and high inflation.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Both banks raised their quarterly dividends, by 3 cents per share to $1.03 at Scotiabank, and by 6 cents per share to $1.39 at BMO.

Two key factors that have supported banks’ rising profits through much of the pandemic – rapidly rising mortgage balances and unusually low losses from defaulting loans – appear to have reached peaks, and are set to return to more normal levels.

Mortgage balances rose 16 per cent year over year at Scotiabank and 8 per cent at BMO, benefitting from the tail end of a red-hot streak for housing markets. But that yearly growth rate is “slowly slowing,” said Dan Rees, Scotiabank’s head of Canadian banking, and is likely to revert to a pace in the range of 6 to 9 per cent in the coming quarters even as some economists are predicting housing prices will fall.

Provisions for credit losses – the funds banks set aside to cover losses in case loans default – “reached the floor this quarter,” said Phil Thomas, Scotiabank’s chief risk officer. He and his BMO counterpart, Mr. Cronin, expect loan loss reserves will gradually drift higher. But with write-offs and delinquencies still very low, neither risk officer is predicting a spike in loan losses, even though it will rapidly get more expensive for consumers to service their debts.

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