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Bank of Canada warns surging loonie could pose risk to economic outlook – Financial Post

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“On the other hand, what we’re seeing now is most of the appreciation in the Canadian dollar is coming because of a broad-based depreciation of the U.S. dollar,” Macklem told reporters during a press conference. “That’s not a made-in-Canada development. So, the exchange rate is becoming a factor in its own right in our projection.”

Macklem’s comments followed the Bank of Canada’s decision to leave its key interest rate unchanged at 0.25 per cent. The loonie rose from about 78.7 cents US pre-decision to more than 79 cents US shortly after.

In making its announcement, the central bank said the world is still rife with uncertainty, and that the economic outlook continues to hinge on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine rollouts. A stronger dollar could throw another wrench into that economic outlook.

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem.
Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem. Photo by Blair Gable/Reuters files

“Appreciation of the Canadian dollar creates direct downward pressure on inflation by lowering the prices of imports,” Wednesday’s monetary policy report said. “Further appreciation of the Canadian dollar could slow output growth by reducing the competitiveness of Canadian exports and import-competing production. Slower output growth would also imply more disinflationary pressures.”

Inflation — a measure of how much the prices for goods and services are increasing — is key to the Bank of Canada’s monetary policy decisions, namely the setting of its key interest rate. The bank’s target for inflation is a two per cent year-over-year increase in the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the change in cost of a basket of products.

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RBC warns of credit performance dependence on government aid after profit beat

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By Nichola Saminather and Noor Zainab Hussain

(Reuters) – Royal Bank of Canada executives cautioned on Wednesday that the company’s 2021 credit performance hinges on the outlook for government support after its quarterly profit beat estimates on much lower than expected provisions for loan losses.

RBC, Canada‘s top lender, also flagged a moderation in trading activity this year.

National Bank of Canada, which also beat profit expectations, said trading revenues could decline if volumes come off following recent surges, some of which Chief Executive Louis Vachon attributed to “pockets of irrational exuberance” and distortions caused by quantitative easing.

Both banks posted record earnings in their capital markets businesses in the first quarter.

RBC and National Bank, the smallest of Canada‘s six major lenders, followed rivals Bank of Montreal and Bank of Nova Scotia in posting better-than-expected profits that have also now surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Canadian banks have largely avoided an increase in soured loans thanks to several government assistance measures, expected to end this summer.

While BMO and RBC released some reserves on performing loans during the quarter, signaling an improving outlook for loan losses, RBC said delinquencies will still increase for the remainder of 2021, accompanied by a rise in impaired loan provisions.

RBC Chief Risk Officer Graeme Hepworth told analysts the degree to which the government support is extended or transformed “will drive … the expectations and implications for our credit performance in the latter half of the year.”

National Bank executives said that while loan losses could be lower than initially thought, the bank is maintaining its provisions on performing loans.

Despite the somewhat murky credit picture, RBC executives said they were heartened by expected improvement in the second half on expectations of growth in higher-margin loans like commercial and credit cards as businesses reopen and the economy recovers.

RBC shares rose 0.3% to C$112.53 in afternoon trading in Toronto, while National Bank stock was up 4.6% at C$79.30, both heading for their highest close on record. The Toronto stock benchmark was up 0.9%.

Canadian lending rose 6% in the three months through January at RBC but this was driven entirely by increases in residential mortgages.

RBC expects continued mortgage growth will help drive a consumer-led recovery in its Canadian banking unit, based on a forecast of high-single-digit growth in Canadian housing prices this year, following a record year in 2020 for resale activity.

RBC reported adjusted cash earnings of C$2.69 per share versus analysts’ expectations of C$2.26. National Bank’s adjusted income rose to C$2.15 per share, compared with estimates of C$1.71.

 

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sohini Podder in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel, Matthew Lewis and Marguerita Choy)

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J&J's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, says FDA – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The Canadian Press

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 49,917 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,652,282 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 4,359.666 per 100,000. There were 36,279 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,040,089 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.99 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 20,285 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.739 per 1,000. There were 2,340 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 26,800 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.69 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,020 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,630 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 73.316 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 13,045 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 89.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,188 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 29,237 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 29.959 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 47,280 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 5,135 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 26,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.738 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 35,015 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 10,932 new vaccinations administered for a total of 376,910 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 44.049 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 509,325 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 17,141 new vaccinations administered for a total of 602,848 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.041 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 683,255 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.23 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,402 new vaccinations administered for a total of 66,372 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 48.20 per 1,000. There were 14,040 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 98,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 67.14 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,003 new vaccinations administered for a total of 63,345 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 53.721 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 59,395 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 106.7 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 5,817 new vaccinations administered for a total of 186,572 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 42.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 205,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.62 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,521 new vaccinations administered for a total of 230,875 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 44.991 per 1,000. There were 19,899 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 307,849 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 941 new vaccinations administered for a total of 14,364 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 344.205 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 76 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 62 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,073 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 182.642 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 15,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 40 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 45.93 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press

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Single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66% effective, say U.S. regulators – CBC.ca

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Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and effective in trials, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff said in documents published on Wednesday, paving the way for its approval for emergency use.

The FDA’s panel of independent experts is set to meet Friday to decide whether to approve the shot. While the panel is not bound to follow the advice of its experts, the FDA did so when authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was 66 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people, the company said last month.

Its effectiveness varied from 72 per cent in the United States to 66 per cent in Latin America and 57 per cent in South Africa, where a new variant has spread, though the vaccine was 85 per cent effective overall in stopping severe cases of the disease.

FDA finds vaccine is safe

The vaccine was effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 and preventing polymerase-chain-reaction-test (PCR-test) confirmed COVID-19 at least 14 days after vaccination, the FDA said in its briefing documents.

Three vaccine recipients had severe side effects in the trial, but the FDA said its analysis did not raise specific safety concerns that would preclude issuance of an emergency use authorization.

Johnson & Johnson had not previously released details of its clinical trial data beyond efficacy rates.

Approval could speed up vaccination drives

While the overall effectiveness numbers may suggest Johnson & Johnson candidate isn’t quite as strong as two-dose competitors, all of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines have been tested differently, making comparisons nearly impossible.

It wouldn’t be surprising if one dose turns out to be a little weaker than two doses, but policymakers will decide if that’s an acceptable trade-off to get more people vaccinated faster.

The rival Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines currently being used in the U.S., Canada, and many other countries must be kept frozen, while the Johnson & Johnson shot can last three months in the refrigerator, making it easier to handle.

Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical division, Janssen, has applied for regulatory approval from Health Canada. That application is still under review.

Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, with options for up to 28 million more, if necessary. Most of those shots are expected to arrive by the end of September.

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