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Biden kicks off effort to reshape U.S. economy with infrastructure package – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday will call for a dramatic and more permanent shift in the direction of the U.S. economy with a roughly $2 trillion package to invest in traditional projects like roads and bridges alongside tackling climate change and boosting human services like elder care.

He also aims to put corporate America on the hook for the tab, which is expected to grow to a combined $4 trillion once he rolls out the second part of his economic plan in April.

Coupled with his recently enacted $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Biden’s infrastructure initiative would give the federal government a bigger role in the U.S. economy than it has had in generations, accounting for 20% or more of annual output.

The effort, to be announced on Wednesday at an event in Pittsburgh, sets the stage for the next partisan clash in Congress where members largely agree that capital investments are needed but are divided on the total size and inclusion of programs traditionally seen as social services. Just how to pay for them will be a fractious issue in its own right.

Biden for now is ignoring a campaign promise and sparing wealthy Americans from any tax increase. The plan would increase the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and change the tax code to close loopholes that allow companies to move profits overseas, according to a senior administration official.

It does not include expected increases in the top marginal tax rate or to the capital gains tax. The plan would spread the cost for projects over an eight-year period and aims to pay for it all over 15 years, the senior administration official said.

The plan also includes $621 billion to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, highways and ports, including a historic $174 billion investment in the electric vehicle market that sets a goal of a nationwide charging network by 2030.

Congress will also be asked to put $400 billion toward expanding access to affordable home or community-based care for aging Americans and people with disabilities.

There is $213 billion provided to build and retrofit affordable and sustainable homes along with hundreds of billions to support U.S. manufacturing, bolster the nation’s electric grid, enact nationwide high-speed broadband and revamp the nation’s water systems to ensure clean drinking water.

SECOND LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE COMING

Biden is moving forward with the massive job and infrastructure effort as he navigates an ambitious time line to provide enough COVID vaccines for all adults by the end of May and the deployment of pandemic relief.

The White House is also dealing with a rise in the number of migrants at the southern border, the fallout from back-to-back mass shootings and a looming showdown over the Senate filibuster

The plan forms one part of the “Build Back Better” agenda that the administration aims to introduce. The White House has said the administration will introduce a second legislative package within weeks.

The second package is expected to include an expansion in health insurance coverage, an extension of the expanded child tax benefit, and paid family and medical leave, among other efforts aimed at families, the officials said.

White House officials have not explained whether they will seek to have both efforts pass at the same time or try to get Congress to approve one first.

The jockeying around Biden’s push has already begun, as allies push for inclusion of their priorities in the upcoming legislative effort and Republicans signal early concerns about the size and scope of the package.

Moderate Democrats have said the package should be more targeted to traditional infrastructure projects to attract Republican votes, seeking a return to bipartisan policymaking.

Liberal lawmakers want to use the party’s slim majorities in Congress to tackle some of the nation’s biggest problems, such as climate change and economic inequality, with resources that reflect the size of those challenges.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, a leading progressive Democrat, said on Tuesday that outside groups like Americans for Tax Fairness pegged the infrastructure and jobs plan that Biden rolled out on the campaign trail at between $6.5 trillion and $11 trillion over 10 years.

“We’d like to see a plan that goes big,” Jayapal said. “We really think that there’s ample room to get the overall number up to somewhere in that range in order to really tackle the scale of investments that we need to make.”

Republican Garret Graves, his party’s senior member on the House Select Committee on the climate crisis, said he was keeping an open mind but was concerned that Democrats were leveraging the popularity of infrastructure to usher in a broad expansion of social welfare.

“If they’re just going to encapsulate a cow pie in a candy shell, then I’m not there,” Graves said in an interview on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Makini Brice; Editing by Dan Burns and Peter Cooney)

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Economy

CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03

* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO​>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp​, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc​, higher by 5.5%.

* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp​​, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc​, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd​, lower by 5.7%.

* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.

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Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.

Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.

“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”

Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.

The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.

Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.

Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Canadian dollar rebounds from one-week low ahead of jobs data

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, recovering from a one-week low the day before, as the level of oil prices bolstered the medium-term outlook for the currency and ahead of domestic jobs data on Friday.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.4% higher at 1.2560 to the greenback, or 79.62 U.S. cents. On Wednesday, it touched its weakest intraday level since March 31 at 1.2634.

“We have seen partial retracement from the decline over the last couple of days,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.

“With oil prices where they are – let’s call WCS still at roughly $49 a barrel – I still think CAD has room to strengthen over the medium term and even over a one-week horizon.”

Western Canadian Select (WCS), the heavy blend of oil that Canada produces, trades at a discount to the U.S. benchmark. U.S. crude futures settled 0.3% lower at $59.60 a barrel, but were up nearly 80% since last November.

The S&P 500 closed at a record high as Treasury yields fell following softer-than-anticipated labor market data, while the U.S. dollar fell to a two-week low against a basket of major currencies.

Canada‘s employment report for March, due on Friday, could offer clues on the Bank of Canada‘s policy outlook. The central bank has become more upbeat about prospects for economic growth, while some strategists expect it to cut bond purchases at its next interest rate announcement on April 21.

On a more cautious note for the economy, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, initiated a four-week stay-at-home order as it battles a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian government bond yields were lower across a flatter curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year fell 3.3 basis points to 1.469%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith;Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)

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