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Biden talks to Walmart, UPS, Target, other CEOs on supply issues



U.S. President Joe Biden spoke on Tuesday with the chief executives of Walmart Inc, United Parcel Service Inc, FedEx Corp and Target Corp to discuss speeding up deliveries and lowering prices for consumers.

Biden took to Twitter to say he understood the concerns about the supply chain gridlocks and the potential impact on Americans as they brace for the holiday season. He said he had talked to the executives and they were confident people will be able to get the items they want in the upcoming weeks.

“You’re going to be able to get to the store, get to the outlets you’re looking for, get the products you need, the gifts you want. That’s what we’ve been working on,” Biden said in the roughly 90-second video posted on Twitter.

Biden, facing political pressure over rising U.S. prices, has been organizing an effort to clear transportation bottlenecks, ease semiconductor shortages and pass a spending bill that officials hope will ease long-term inflation.

Target CEO Brian Cornell shared that we are ready to deliver a great shopping experience for guests this holiday season,” the company said in a statement, adding its inventory levels are well above last year’s and that it is processing more containers at night.

The other companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment about their conversations with the president.

Concerns about labor and goods shortages have grown ahead of the U.S. holiday season, when travel and gift buying normally create jobs for workers and profits for retailers.

Last month, one senior White House official told Reuters that “there will be things that people can’t get,” come Christmastime.

Experts have also said the problems, which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic closing factories and putting people out of work globally, were unlikely to be solved quickly.

The shortages have helped lift consumer prices by 5.4% over the 12 months through September, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Due to inflation, most workers’ real hourly wages sagged 0.8% over the same time frame.

Administration officials said on Tuesday they were working to quickly put to work some of the provisions in the $1 trillion infrastructure package that Congress approved last week to clear backlogs at U.S. ports that have kept some goods from store shelves.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)


COVID-19 antiviral drug molnupiravir to be manufactured in Canada – CTV News



Merck Canada announced on Monday that it is partnering with Thermo Fisher Scientific to manufacture the investigational COVID-19 antiviral drug molnupiravir at a facility in Whitby, Ont., for distribution to global markets.

The Canadian location will produce doses of molnupiravir, developed in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, for distribution in Canada, the U.K., the European Union, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, pending approvals in those respective regions. The drug is awaiting approval by Health Canada.

The facility was chosen because of its capacity, capability, and the speed with which it is able to produce the drug, Merck Canada’s new president Marwan Akar said during a press conference.

Thermo Fisher’s existing Whitby manufacturing site is one of three locations in the world that will produce molnupiravir.

“We are marking a very key milestone, and rebuilding Canada’s biomanufacturing capability,” Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne said during the news conference.

“We’ll be producing COVID medications for Canadians and indeed for the world…so to me this is a very big step in how we intend to reveal our biomanufacturing sector in Canada.”

Earlier in the pandemic, Canada came under criticism for its inability to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines domestically, leaving Ottawa reliant on U.S. and European manufacturers to produce and provide doses.

Minister Champagne said the latest announcement is part of the government’s efforts to ensure Canada is better prepared and that “we redesign the supply chain so whatever may come next, we would be ready.”

The new manufacturing deal will also help Ontario’s economic recovery with a $19 million capital investment supporting more than 50 high-paying jobs in the region, according to Victor Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Last week, the federal government signed a deal with Merck to purchase 500,000 molnupiravir pills, with an option for another half million, pending approval. Request for approval of the drug was submitted in August.

Antiviral drug treatments are considered another tool in the fight against COVID-19, experts say, after personal protective equipment, testing, and vaccines.

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Oil rises after Saudi price hike signals confidence in demand – BNN



Oil rose after Saudi Arabia boosted the prices of its crude, signaling confidence in the demand outlook despite the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Futures in New York advanced 2.4 per cent to trade near US$68 a barrel. The kingdom increased its oil prices for customers in Asia and the U.S. for January, just days after the OPEC+ alliance agreed to boost output for the same month. Prices for its high-sulfur barrels in Asia were the highest since at least 2000. 

Meanwhile, initial data on omicron from South Africa — the epicenter of the outbreak — doesn’t show a resulting surge of hospitalizations. Markets across the globe have been roiled since the variant emerged in recent weeks, prompting concerns about a potential hit to the economic rebound. 

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The U.S. said over the weekend that chances of Iran rejoining the nuclear deal may be slipping away. The briefing was one of the most pessimistic American assessments of the negotiations yet, dampening any expectations of a quick return of Iranian oil to the market.   

While oil dropped for a sixth consecutive week of declines — the longest stretch since 2018 — it has begun to recover from the stark drop at the beginning of last week, when omicron led to renewed restrictions on travel. OPEC+ decided to keep adding extra barrels to the market in January, essentially putting a floor under prices by giving itself the option to change the plan at short notice.

Oil is seeing “a continuation of last week’s recovery” and “a bit of extra spice by Saudi OSPs,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank.


  • West Texas Intermediate for January delivery gained 2.9 per cent to US$68.15 a barrel by 9:09 a.m. in New York.
  • Brent for February settlement rose 2.8 per cent to US$71.80 a barrel.

Saudi Aramco raised its key Arab Light grade for customers in Asia by 60 cents from December to US$3.30 a barrel above a benchmark, according to a statement from the state producer. That followed comments last week from Aramco Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser that he was “very optimistic” about demand and that the market had overreacted to omicron.

White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Sunday that there doesn’t look to be a great degree of severity to the new strain, while cautioning it’s too early to be certain. Omicron has so far spread to at least 17 U.S. states.

Other oil-market news:

  • ConocoPhillips raised its capital budget for 2022 just months after a pair of major acquisitions that made it the second-biggest oil driller in the Permian Basin.
  • Iran said world powers can’t expect it to stop expanding its nuclear work until they reach an agreement with Tehran on how U.S. sanctions will be lifted from the Islamic Republic’s economy, according to a statement by the country’s foreign ministry.
  • President Joe Biden said U.S. drivers are beginning to see lower prices at gasoline pumps, but that China has not yet participated in a global release of oil reserves.

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Trans Mountain Pipeline restarts after three-week pause due to B.C. floods –



The Trans Mountain Pipeline has restarted “safely,” said the company, after a three-week pause due to safety risks posed by widespread flooding in B.C.

On Sunday, Trans Mountain confirmed it has completed “all necessary assessments, repairs, and construction of protective earthworks” needed to turn the taps back on.

“As part of this process Trans Mountain will monitor the line on the ground, by air and through our technology systems operated by our control centre,” it said on its website.

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B.C. gas supply: Trans Mountain Pipeline plans to restart Sunday

The pipeline was shut down as a precaution on Nov. 14, amid record-breaking rainfall that caused catastrophic flooding and mudslides across southern B.C.

It was the first of four major storms to strike the province last month.

Trans Mountain said Saturday there’s no evidence of “serious damage” to the pipeline, or the release of any product in the aftermath of the extreme weather.

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s fight for fuel: Trans Mountain hopes to restart pipeline at reduced capacity in days'

B.C.’s fight for fuel: Trans Mountain hopes to restart pipeline at reduced capacity in days

B.C.’s fight for fuel: Trans Mountain hopes to restart pipeline at reduced capacity in days – Nov 26, 2021

The 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain Pipeline ships roughly 300,000 barrels of oil per day to terminals in B.C. from Edmonton. It also supplies fuel to Washington.

With the pipeline shut down, the B.C. government issued an emergency order on Nov. 19 limiting consumers in storm-stricken parts of the province to 30 litres of gasoline in a single fill-up.

On Nov. 29, it extended gas-rationing to Dec. 14. The fuel conservation measures apply to residents of the Lower Mainland to Hope, Sea to Sky, Sunshine Coast, Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.

Essential vehicles remain exempt.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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