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Calgarian claims $50M Lotto Max jackpot from August draw – CTV News

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CALGARY —
This year will be a very merry Christmas indeed for one lucky Calgarian after a $50-million Lotto Max jackpot was claimed from the Aug. 30 draw.

For nearly three months after the draw – which had the numbers 5, 9, 33, 36, 39, 41 and 44 – Joshua Caines’ ticket sat in his wallet, then on a shelf, until he decided it was time to check it.

Using the Western Canada Lottery Corporation app on his phone, Caines quickly found out he had a winner.

“I had heard that the $50 million was still unclaimed in Calgary,” he said in a release. “And I knew I had some tickets I hadn’t had time to check yet.”

And even though his numbers matched, he didn’t quite believe it at first.

“I thought to myself, ‘Am I seeing this right?’” he said in a release. “Once I showed it to a couple of people, that’s when it started to feel real.”

Caines said he doesn’t plan to make any major life decisions about his windfall immediately.

Instead, he said he’ll take his time to plan for the future.

His winning ticket, a $9 quick pick, was bought at the 7-Eleven store in the 7700 block of Ranchview Drive N.W. and was the only winner to match all seven numbers from that day’s draw.

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Israel's COVID-19 vaccine rollout being monitored closely in Montreal – Montreal Gazette

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News out of Israel that the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may not be as effective against COVID-19 as initially hoped has caused ripples of concern among Montreal’s medical community.

On Monday, Israel’s so-called coronavirus czar, Nachman Ash, reportedly said the first dose of the vaccine appeared “less effective than we had thought.” In remarks reported by Army Radio, Ash added that the protective effect of the vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was “lower than Pfizer presented.”

Since December, Israel has administered the first shot to two million citizens, or nearly 25 per cent of its population. In addition, 400,000 residents have received the second dose. On Monday, Israel posted a record 10,000 COVID-19 cases and the country is extending its lockdown until the end of January.

Quebec and other jurisdictions around the world have been delaying giving the second Pfizer shot, amid short supplies, after the U.K.’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization concluded that the efficacy of the vaccine was 89 per cent, starting 14 days after the first dose.

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Bank of Canada keep key rate at 0.25 per cent, warns of economic decline in 2021 – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The Bank of Canada says the national economy will go in reverse for the first quarter of 2021, hammering the hardest-hit workers again on the path to a recovery that rests on the rollout of vaccines.

Workers in high-contact service industries will carry the burden of a new round of lockdowns, which the central bank warns will exacerbate the pandemic’s uneven effects on the labour market.

Governor Tiff Macklem, in his opening remarks at a late-morning news conference, warned the first-quarter decline could be worse than expected if restrictions are tightened or extended.

As a result, the bank announced it is keeping its key interest rate on hold at 0.25 per cent, citing near-term weakness and the “protracted nature of the recovery” in its reasoning.

But the short-term pain is expected to give way to a brighter outlook for the medium-term with vaccines rolling out sooner than the central bank expected.

Still, the bank warns in its updated economic outlook that a complete recovery from COVID-19 will take some time.

Nor does the Bank of Canada see inflation getting back to its two-per-cent target until 2023, one year longer than previously forecast.

“There is clear reason to be more optimistic about the direction of the economy over medium-term. But we are not there yet,” reads part of Macklem’s opening statement.

“The resurgence in COVID-19 cases weighs heavily on the near-term economic outlook. And this underlines the ongoing need for extraordinary fiscal and monetary policies.”

The bank’s latest monetary policy report, which every quarter lays out its expectations for economic growth and inflation, forecasts that COVID-19 caused the economy to contract by 5.5 per cent last year.

Despite an upswing over the summer and fall that may have spared the country from a worst-case economic scenario, the drive to a recovery will hit a pothole over the first three months of 2021.

The bank forecasts real gross domestic product will decline by 2.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 before improving thereafter if severe restrictions start easing in February.

The bank is forecasting growth of four per cent this year, then 4.8 per cent next year, and finally 2.5 per cent in 2023.

Getting there will be like riding a roller-coaster as the bank warned that resurgence in COVID-19, or new, more virulent strains, could weigh down a recovery in one quarter before leading to strong upswing in the next.

Inflation may be equally rocky.

Gasoline prices, which have weighed down the consumer price index this year, will by March be “well above their lows of a year earlier,” the bank’s report said, even if prices hover around where they are now. That should significantly bump inflation, possibly pushing the headline reading to roughly two per cent in the second quarter.

The bump will even out over the rest of the year with the bank forecasting inflation for 2021 at 1.6 per cent. The outlook for subsequent years estimates 1.7 per cent in 2022 and 2.1 per cent in 2023.

Separately Wednesday, Statistics Canada reported the annual pace of inflation slowed in December as the consumer price index was up 0.7 per cent compared with a year earlier.

The agency also reported that the average last month of Canada’s three measures for core inflation, which are considered better gauges of underlying price pressures and closely tracked by the Bank of Canada, was 1.57 per cent.

All the numbers in the bank’s lookahead rest on efforts to vaccinate Canadians by the end of the year without any hiccups in that timeline, which would mean broad immunity six months sooner than the bank previously assumed.

The bank says the shorter timeline should mean less scarring overall for the economy in the form of fewer bankruptcies and fewer workers out of jobs for long stretches, which makes it more difficult for them to get back into the labour force.

The long-term unemployment rate, capturing those who have been out of a job for six months or more, reached 2.4 per cent last month, which the central bank noted was a “serious concern” because those workers may eventually drop out of the labour force altogether.

Recent restrictions will harm low-wage workers, who by December had employment levels four-fifths of what they were pre-pandemic, as well as youth and women who are more likely to work in hard-hit sectors like accommodations and food services.

The central bank’s report warned the longer restrictions remain in place, the more difficult it may be for these workers to find new jobs since the majority move to a new job but in the same industry.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.

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Bank of Canada holds rate steady at 0.25% even as it expects economy to shrink until March – CBC.ca

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The Bank of Canada elected to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday, reiterating its pledge to keep it there “until the recovery is well underway.”

Eight times a year, Canada’s central bank meets to set its benchmark interest rate, known as the target for the overnight rate, which impacts the rates that Canadians get on things like mortgages and savings accounts at banks.

All things being equal, the bank slashes its rate when it wants to stimulate borrowing and investing and raises it when it wants to cool things down.

The bank slashed its rate a number of times starting in March of last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic was just starting.

There had been some speculation prior to Wednesday that the bank may decide to cut again from its current level of 0.25 per cent, as virus numbers have been moving higher for several weeks now.

But in a statement, the bank said it’s going to stay the course for now.

“Canada’s economy had strong momentum through to late 2020, but the resurgence of cases and the reintroduction of lockdown measures are a serious setback,” the bank said.

“Growth in the first quarter of 2021 is now expected to be negative,” the bank said, forecasting that GDP will shrink by another 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to where it was at the end of December. This comes after the economy already shrank by 5.5 per cent last year.

The short term looks gloomier than it did a few months ago, but the bank said it still thinks the deployment of vaccines this year will help power a strong bounceback for the economy. The bank thinks the economy will grow by four per cent for 2021 as a whole, and by another 4.8 next year.

“The outlook for Canada is now stronger and more secure than in the October projection, thanks to earlier-than-expected availability of vaccines and significant ongoing policy stimulus,” the bank said.

No change to QE program for now

The bank decided not to cut its rate, and it also elected to keep its bond-buying program unchanged at $4 billion a week. 

The bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing, is another tool at the bank’s disposal that allows it to stimulate the economy because by buying up government bonds, the bank is lowering interest rates even more — putting more cash into the system that’s available to be spent.

While it says it won’t be scaling back those bond buys for now, slowing that pace of buying is clearly on the table.

We’re moving in the wrong direction right now, so the hole is going to be a little bit deeper.– Tiff Macklem on Canada’s economy

“We’re going to need this program for some time,” Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said in a press release to discuss the bank’s quarterly Monetary Policy Report.

Many economists have been suggesting the bank needs to start tapering those purchases back, simply because the impact is so large on the overall market.

Economist Taylor Schleich with National Bank noted in a report last week that at its current pace of bond buying, the central bank is on track to own half of all Canadian government bonds by the end of the year. “Our bond market simply isn’t large enough to accommodate such a significant absorption of bonds from the central bank,” Schleich said.

At its current pace of buying, the Bank of Canada will soon own half of all of Canada’s government bonds (Scott Galley/CBC)

Macklem left the door open to slowing those purchases at some point. But the expectation that the economy is still shrinking suggests that won’t be happening any time soon.

“We’re moving in the wrong direction right now, so the hole is going to be a little bit deeper, [so] there’s farther to climb back from.”

But, he said, “as we gain confidence in in the strength of our recovery, we will begin to adjust our QE purchases.”

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