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Asian markets gain after Japan central bank boosts aid – MarketWatch

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BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets gained Monday after Japan’s central bank promised more asset purchases to shore up financial markets as investors look to central bankers to support the struggling global economy.

Tokyo’s benchmark surged 2.4% and Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney also gained.

Investors also are looking ahead to meetings of U.S. and European central banks this week for signs of more measures to reverse the deepest global slump since the 1930s. The meetings this week come as mounting evidence shows the coronavirus pandemic’s economic damage is even worse than expected.

The Bank of Japan said it will buy an additional 15 trillion yen ($140 billion) of commercial paper and bank loans. It also lifted its ceiling on purchases of Japanese government bonds, which it has been buying for years to help stave off deflation in Japan’s shrinking and aging economy.

That is a “significant increase from the timid 2 trillion yen” in purchases announced in March, Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a report.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Federal Reserve is more likely to announce it will wait to see the impact of earlier stimulus measures before taking more action, Hayaki Narita of Mizuho Bank said in a report. The European Central Bank “will likely keep its options for easing open.”

This week’s other potentially market-moving events include data from the United States, China, Japan, Germany and France on inflation, trade, industrial activity and retail spending.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.7% to 2,828.13 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225
NIK,
+2.70%

rose 2.4% to 19,722.13. The Hang Seng
HSI,
+1.90%

in Hong Kong added 1.6% to 25,223.06.

In Seoul, the Kospi was 1.6% higher at 1,919.21. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.7% to 5,278.30. Singapore advanced 1.3%.

Investors appear to be trying to look past the outbreak and figure out which companies can survive and prosper after economic conditions improve. China, where the pandemic began in December, has reopened factories and other businesses after numbers of new cases declined.

Spain, Italy and Belgium have announced plans to ease restrictions and other governments including the United States are looking at whether and how to reopen.

President Donald Trump, in the midst of a re-election campaign, is pressing state governors to ease anti-disease controls as early as possible. Spain plans to start easing restrictions on Sunday and Italy on May 4. France will announce its plans next month.

Some U.S. governors have begun lifting shutdown orders despite warnings that could cause a surge in infections, while others including Gov. Andew Cuomo of New York say they want to see a bigger decline in new cases before rolling back curbs.

Wall Street ended last week higher after President Donald Trump signed legislation to provide an additional $500 billion in virus aid, including loans to small businesses.

U.S. government data showed an unexpectedly sharp 14.4% drop in durable goods orders.

That added to grim numbers that are denting investor sentiment, which economists have warned is far too optimistic.

The S&P 500 Index gained 1.4% to 2,836.74. The U.S. benchmark is down 16.2% from its February record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1% to 23,775.25. The Nasdaq composite added 1.7% to 8,634.52.

“Investors have written off 2020 as a shocker and are looking more intently into the landscape in 2021,” Chris Weston of Pepperstone said in a report.

They are due to get more indicators how that future might develop when companies including Exxon, Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing and McDonald’s start reporting quarterly results this week.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for June
CL.1,
-13.81%

delivery lost 99 cents to $15.95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 2.7% on Friday to settle at $16.94. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 17 cents to $24.64 per barrel in London. It added 0.5% the previous session to $21.44 per barrel.

The dollar was unchanged at 107.49 yen. The euro
EURUSD,
+0.20%

held steady at $1.0823.

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U.S. coronavirus deaths hit grim record as cases rise rapidly in India, Russia – Globalnews.ca

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The coronavirus crisis threw at least 2.1 million Americans out of work last week despite the gradual reopening of businesses around the country, stoking fears Thursday that the scourge is doing deep and potentially long-lasting damage to the U.S. economy.

Amid a few glimmers of hope, most of the latest economic news from around the globe was likewise grim, as some of the world’s most populous countries continued to report rising infections and deaths.


READ MORE:
South Korea coronavirus cases rise by highest number since early April

The confirmed U.S. death toll topped 100,000, the highest in the world, on Wednesday.

The latest job-loss figures from the U.S. Labor Department bring to 41 million the running total of Americans who have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus shutdowns took hold in mid-March.

There were some encouraging signs: The overall number of Americans currently drawing jobless benefits dropped for the first time since the crisis began, from 25 million to 21 million. And first-time applications for unemployment have fallen for eight straight weeks, as states gradually let stores, restaurants and other businesses reopen and the auto industry starts up factories again.

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0:58
Coronavirus outbreak: Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll surprasses the United States’


Coronavirus outbreak: Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll surprasses the United States’

But the number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment is still extraordinarily high by historical standards, and that suggests businesses are failing or permanently downsizing, not just laying off people until the crisis can pass, economists warn.

“That is the kind of economic destruction you cannot quickly put back in the bottle,” said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.


READ MORE:
South Korea promises more privacy as it tracks contacts of new coronavirus cases

The U.S. unemployment rate was 14.7 per cent in April, a level not seen since the Depression, and many economists expect it will be near 20 per cent in May.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

The figures come amid an intensifying debate in Congress over whether to extend $600 in extra weekly federal unemployment benefits, provided under rescue legislation passed in March but set to expire July 31.

Democrats have proposed extending the payments, while Republicans have argued that the extra money could discourage laid-off workers from returning to jobs that pay less than they are getting on unemployment.






2:25
Major outbreaks in countries that first downplayed the crisis


Major outbreaks in countries that first downplayed the crisis

Kelly Kelso, a 30-year-old roadie from Nashville for the rock group Foreigner, got her first unemployment check last week after more than eight weeks of waiting. She said she is still receiving far less in benefits than the $1,250 per week or more that she made on tour.

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Though she is reluctant to leave the music industry, she said, “I have a cosmetology license. If all else fails, I could go back to doing hair.”

Another looming storm cloud: Economists say the sharp loss of tax revenue for state and local governments is likely to compound the damage from the shutdowns by forcing additional public-sector layoffs in the coming weeks.

Those layoffs have just recently started showing up in the weekly jobless claims report. Washington state, for example, reported layoffs of government employees.


READ MORE:
Live updates on the coronavirus pandemic in Canada

Job cuts are also appearing far beyond the initially hit industries such as restaurants and stores, a sign that the damage is spreading even as businesses reopen. Washington state said it saw layoffs in insurance, and New York state reported job cuts by information technology companies.

Economists say many of the jobs lost are never coming back, and double-digit unemployment could persist through 2021.

And as discouraging as the numbers are, the real picture may be worse. The government counts people as unemployed only if they’re actually looking for a job, and many Americans probably see no point in trying when so many businesses are shut down.

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers are struggling after air travel plummeted early in the outbreak. Boeing is cutting more than 12,000 U.S. jobs through layoffs and buyouts, many expected to be in the Seattle area. European budget airline Easyjet said it will cut up to a third of its 15,000 employees. American Airlines plans to eliminate about 5,100 jobs.

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1:50
What the theme park experience could look like in our new reality


What the theme park experience could look like in our new reality

Amtrak likewise announced it will lay off about 20 per cent of its 18,000 workers amid a collapse in train ridership.

A number of European countries have strong safety-net programs that are underwriting the wages of millions of workers and keeping them on the payroll instead of adding them to the ranks of the unemployed. But the economic damage is mounting there, too.

Nissan is rolling back production in Spain in a move the government said could lead to 3,000 direct job cuts and thousands more losses at the automaker’s suppliers. And French unemployment claims jumped 22 per cent in April, with 843,000 more people seeking work.

READ MORE: Quebec courthouses to reopen next week as province eases coronavirus measures

Elsewhere around the world, India saw another record daily jump in coronavirus cases. Russia reported a steady increase in its caseload, even as the city of Moscow and provinces across the vast country moved to ease restrictions in sync with the Kremlin’s political agenda.

And South Korea reported its biggest jump in infections in more than 50 days, a setback that could erase some of the hard-won gains that have made it a model for the rest of the world.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 5.7 million people and killed over 355,000, with the U.S. having the most confirmed cases and deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Europe has recorded about 170,000 deaths.

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The true dimensions of the disaster are widely believed to be significantly greater, with experts saying many victims died without ever being tested.

Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Irving Oil's Come By Chance refinery purchase a 'building block' to get Western Canadian oil east – Financial Post

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CALGARY – One of Canada’s richest families is buying Newfoundland and Labrador’s only oil refinery, which will be a “building block” in a larger strategy to process more Canadian oil.

Saint John, N.B.-based Irving Oil announced Thursday plans to buy North Atlantic Refining Corp. and its Come By Chance, Nfld. refinery from New York-based investment firm Silverpeak for an undisclosed sum, which marks the seventh time the refinery has changed hands in its storied history.

The deal is subject to conditions, including a Competition Bureau review, but it would make family-controlled Irving Oil the only refinery operator in Atlantic Canada. The deal comes weeks after Irving Oil secured permission to bring Western Canadian to the East Coast and forms part of a larger strategy to strengthen its business, according to a company spokesperson.

Last month, Irving Oil obtained Transport Canada’s approvals to source Western Canadian oil from the West Coast, through the Panama Canal to its refinery in New Brunswick.

“Our recently announced plans to source Canadian crude oil and today’s announcement in Newfoundland are two building blocks that fit together with our company’s existing strengths,” Irving spokesperson Candice MacLean said in an email. “All of these elements contribute to our long-time objective of helping Canada be even more competitive in the international landscape.”

MacLean also said Irving, which owns a 320,000-bpd refinery in Saint John and a 71,000-bpd refinery near Cork, Ireland, has been investing for years “in the broader Atlantic Basin and have continued to pursue opportunities for growth in these regions, including Atlantic Canada.”

Analysts believe the Come By Chance refinery and associated retail fuel station network in Newfoundland and Labrador are a strategic fit for Irving, which operates filling stations across Atlantic Canada and the U.S. Northeast.

The sale marks the seventh time the refinery has changed hands

Irving operates a distribution network in Newfoundland, including its flagship Big Stop trucking stations in multiple locations across the province.

“It makes sense that they would see a benefit to acquiring the Come By Chance distribution and retail assets,” IHS Markit oil markets, midstream and downstream analyst Susan Bell said in an email.

She said the Come By Chance refinery has been challenged historically because it has been prohibited from selling fuels into the broader Canadian market beyond Newfoundland.

Built with federal and provincial money between 1970 and 1973, the refinery operated for just a few years before going bankrupt in 1976. Petro Canada bought the refinery, then dubbed the “biggest lemon in the world” according to Memorial University archives, for $10 million in 1980. The Crown corporation couldn’t turn a profit on the facility either and sold it for $1 to Newfoundland Energy Ltd. in 1986.

The refinery would change hands again and again. Swiss commodities trader Vitol SA sold the facility to Calgary-based Harvest Energy Trust for $1.6 billion in 2006. Harvest, in turn, sold itself to Korea National Oil Corp. for $4.1 billion in 2009.

The refinery changed hands again in 2014 when Silverpeak, then called SilverRange Financial Partners, bought the facility and invested in expansions. The refinery was initially built to process 100,000 barrels of oil per day but now, according to Irving’s release, it is a 135,000-bpd refinery. In 2019, the previous owner of the refinery had applied to further expand the facility to process 165,000 bpd.

A spokesperson for Silverpeak declined to comment while the sale is still pending. North Atlantic Refining was the firm’s main energy holding, though it also owns a joint venture in Peru.

The facility now processes 135,000 barrels per day, up from its original 100,000

Historically, the top five foreign sources of oil to that refinery in Newfoundland were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Nigeria and Norway, said Dinara Millington, Canadian Energy Research Institute vice-president of research.

In 2018, the majority of the refinery’s throughput was sourced from the U.S., and data from the Canada Energy Regulator show imports to Newfoundland from the U.S. averaged 88,100 bpd, or about 68 per cent of the refinery’s capacity.

Millington said the refinery is calibrated to refine light crude oil but noted that a proposed expansion project to add a coker could enable the new owners at Irving Oil to run a heavier slate in the future.

The most recent offshore oil discovery in Newfoundland is also a large heavy oil deposit, so the refinery could — at least theoretically — be recalibrated to accept heavy oil produced locally.

That heavy oil from Newfoundland “will need a home,” Millington said, though she noted a likely outcome would be to send the heavy crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where refineries are already designed to process heavy grades.

• Email: gmorgan@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Irving to buy North Atlantic Refining including refinery in Come By Chance, NL – BNNBloomberg.ca

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SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Irving Oil has signed a deal to buy North Atlantic Refining Corp., including a refinery in Come By Chance, N.L., from U.S. investment firm Silverpeak.

Financial terms of the agreement, which includes a network of gas stations and other marketing assets, were not disclosed.

North Atlantic provides fuel products to businesses and consumers across Newfoundland.

The refinery has capacity of 130,000 barrels per day.

Production at the refinery was stopped on March 30 due to the pandemic.

The sale is subject to regulatory review and other conditions.

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