Canada’s economy unexpectedly expanded in November as cold weather drove a sharp increase in power usage, though the pick up won’t be enough to salvage what is likely to be a weak end to the year.
Gross domestic output rose 0.1 per cent in November, beating economist estimates for a flat reading, Statistics Canada reported Friday. That follows a 0.1 per cent contraction in the prior month.
Still, the economy remains on track for a very weak fourth quarter with economists predicting hardly any growth over the period. The slowdown is expected to eventually force the Bank of Canada into an interest rate cut, though Friday’s GDP number may take some pressure off the central bank for a more immediate move.
Utilities rose 2.1 per cent, the largest upward contributor to monthly GDP, as a result of unseasonably cold weather in Central Canada. The construction sector also stood out in the report, up 0.5 per cent on the month, with growth in all subsectors including residential and commercial.
“The above-consensus reading was surprising given the temporary factors which were expected to restrain growth,” Royce Mendes, an economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto, wrote in a note to clients. The result “should limit the downside risk to the Bank of Canada’s Q4 forecast,” he said.
The Bank of Canada estimates annualized growth of just 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter.
Canada’s currency pared declines after the report, and was trading 0.2 per cent lower at US$1.3234 against its U.S. counterpart at 8:42 a.m. Toronto time.
- November’s expansion in output was a positive surprise after 17 of 18 economists in a Bloomberg survey predicted the economy to shrink or remain unchanged due to pipeline disruptions and an eight-day strike at Canada’s largest railway
- The better-than-expected GDP reading may ease speculation the Bank of Canada will cut interest rates to counter the recent slowdown in the domestic economy, though the report is clouded by transitory events
- Overall, the gains were broad-based with 15 of 20 sectors posting increases, which more than offset notable declines in the energy and transportation sectors
- A series of transitory factors including a labor strike, pipeline and mine closures contributed to a 1.4 per cent decline in the mining, quarrying and oil and gas category and a 0.9 per cent dip in the transportation and warehousing category
- Retail sales increased 0.5 per cent in November, recouping part of the 1.1 per cent decline in the previous month
- On an annual basis, Canada’s economy grew 1.5 per cent in November, beating estimates for 1.4 per cent
–With assistance from Erik Hertzberg.
How RBC pulled off its highly-coveted $13.5-billion deal for HSBC Canada — with some unintended help from Ottawa
He’ll never want to admit it, but Royal Bank of Canada RY-T chief executive Dave McKay can thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at least in part, for landing Canada’s most coveted bank deal in decades.
Like many of his industry peers, Mr. McKay has been frustrated with Ottawa for slapping an additional, permanent tax on bank and life insurance company profits in the most recent federal budget, something Ottawa has attributed to clawing back some of the financial relief it provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the federal government can taketh away, it can also provide, and seven months later, another pandemic financial policy has proven to be quite helpful to RBC – even if the assistance is unintended.
Because there was so much economic uncertainty when Canada entered its first COVID-19 lockdowns in March, 2020, the federal government and the country’s banking regulator wanted banks to preserve cash as a buffer against any shocks. To enforce this, they prevented the lenders from hiking their dividends, something they often did annually.
There was no way to know it then, but Canada’s banks kept churning out profits, even through multiple lockdowns. That meant all the cash they would have normally put toward dividend hikes piled up on their balance sheets.
RBC wasn’t the only lender that saw its coffers swell, but because it is Canada’s largest bank by profit, it was able to hoard large amounts each quarter. Ultimately, that money was deployed to win the HSBC Canada auction, in the form of a $13.5-billion, all-cash bid.
At the same time, HSBC Canada’s parent, London-based HSBC Holdings PLC, must have seen all that money piling up. So, even though HSBC’s global management team had long said it was committed to Canada, if there was any time to sell, this was it. All that excess cash gave HSBC a greater chance of selling for top dollar – and, crucially, an exit before any potential recession.
The second element of RBC’s winning strategy, and arguably the most important, is an internal one, and it is rooted in something so often overlooked in business: discipline.
Ever since Mr. McKay acquired California-based City National Corp., which specializes in banking for high-net-worth clients, for US$5.4-billion in 2015, just five months into his tenure, there have been endless questions from investors and analysts about what RBC would do next. Often, they centred on growth in the United States.
Mr. McKay has been batting these away for years, suggesting RBC isn’t all that interested in establishing a large retail banking footprint in the U.S. Doing so requires scale, which means it would take one or two large deals to make an impact. To his mind, it just isn’t worth it, considering where RBC is starting from, and because retail banking isn’t as profitable in the U.S. as it is in Canada.
But the questions kept coming, especially as the Big Six banks started accumulated gobs of cash during the pandemic. Then two of RBC’s Canadian rivals, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal, splurged on deals of their own. Late last year, BMO bought California-based Bank of the West for $17.1-billion, the largest U.S. deal in Canadian banking history, and early this year TD bought First Horizon for US$13.4-billion.
Standing pat is incredibly tough when rivals are writing big cheques. The fear of missing out is real, and investors tend to be myopic, too, so they have a habit of rewarding short-term revenue growth.
RBC, though, never wavered. “Patience is really important,” Mr. McKay said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
Royal Bank wasn’t necessarily waiting for this precise opportunity. “We didn’t know [the HSBC Canada sale] was going to happen, or the timing,” he said. But sometimes executives get lucky. And having all that excess capital allowed RBC to splurge on what Mr. McKay called a “more sure-footed transaction” relative to rivals’ deals.
He didn’t go into specifics, but based on its financials, Bank of the West is a fixer-upper for BMO. It is also based in a state where BMO has almost no footprint. First Horizon, meanwhile, may not have even been TD CEO’s first choice for its most recent U.S. retail banking deal, after TD was reported to be in the auction for Bank of the West just a few months prior. HSBC, by contrast, is a very profitable bank, with a 14-per-cent return on equity over the past 12 months, rather healthy by global standards.
What RBC will have to prove now is that it hasn’t overpaid. Just because it had the cash to burn doesn’t mean it needs to use it all.
The bank’s executives are stressing that after making some adjustments, it’s paying about nine times HSBC Canada’s forward earnings, which is below the long-term average trading multiple for Canadian lenders. However, bank deals are also priced off of a multiple of the target’s book value, and at 2.5 times HSBC Canada’s, RBC is paying a healthy premium.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, during Mr. McKay’s tenure, it’s become a bit of a standard. When RBC bought City National, it paid 2.6 times book value, and at the time, almost everyone on Bay Street wondered if the bank overpaid. All those fears have subsided over the past seven years.
What’s become clear is that RBC is willing to pay up for quality. Some bankers chase cheap assets, and may get lucky and find a diamond in the rough. RBC, though, has tried that before, and it resulted in a disastrous acquisition of North Carolina-based Centura Banks Inc. in 2001. Unwinding the deal took a decade, and when RBC ultimately sold the division in 2012, it took a $1.5-billion charge in the process.
“We bought a franchise that had to be transformed and changed – it wasn’t the ‘Tier 1′ franchise,” Mr. McKay said about Centura in a 2015 interview with The Globe and Mail. “Our biggest [lesson] from that failed venture was that you have to buy the highest-quality franchise and build on it.” Sound familiar?
Oil Prices Jump On Major Crude Draw
Russia’s pipeline oil exports to China via the Eastern Siberia—Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline were flat between January and October compared to the same period of 2021, according to China National Petroleum Corporation’s (CNPC) Vice President Huang Yongzhang.
Russia sent 33.26 million tons of oil to China via pipeline in the first ten months of this year, Huang was quoted as saying by Russian news agency TASS at a Russia-China energy forum.
While pipeline oil deliveries were basically unchanged this year, China has significantly increased its seaborne imports of Russian crude as Beijing and India have now emerged as the top buyers of Russian oil after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as Western buyers shun Russia’s crude and prepare for the EU embargo on imports of Russian oil as of December 5.
Just ahead of the ban and the G7-EU price cap on Russian oil, some Chinese buyers have been hesitant to purchase Russian cargoes, as they wait for details on how the price cap would be enforced.
Yet, both China and India are now demanding huge discounts for the Russian oil they are willing to buy, Bloomberg oil strategist Julian Lee wrote in a recent analysis.
Currently, China and India account for around two-thirds of Russia’s crude oil exports by sea, and the Asian buyers are exercising the negotiating power they have over Russia, Lee notes. If Russia wants to continue selling its oil to its new top customers, it must contend with the deep discounts the two buyers demand.
As of the end of last week, Russia’s flagship crude grade, Urals, traded at $52 per barrel—a $33.28 discount to Brent Crude. This compares with the 2021 average discount of Urals to Brent of $2.85.
The huge discount costs the Kremlin some $4 billion in lost revenues every month, according to estimates from Bloomberg’s Lee.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
The Advantages of a Fast and Safe Business Website: Optimizing Your Web Hosting
These days, nearly every business has some sort of online presence. Whether it’s a simple website with your company’s information or a more complex e-commerce site, businesses need to have a web presence in order to compete. However, simply having a website is not enough – it needs to be fast, reliable and secure in order to give users the best experience possible so they can come back. This is where web hosting comes in.
Web hosting is a service that provides businesses with the server space and resources they need to host their website. There are many different web hosting providers out there, but most people choose providers that are in the region their businesses are located. For example, a business located in Canada would prefer to choose a Canadian hosting provider. No matter which provider you choose, it’s important they provide fast speed, reliable uptime and robust security.
How can web hosting optimize the safety and speed of business websites?
First, web hosting providers can make sure that the servers that host the websites are properly configured and secured. Additionally, they can monitor the traffic to and from the website and take steps to ensure malicious traffic is not able to access the site. Finally, they can work with businesses to ensure their website content is optimized for speed and safety.
The advantages of a fast and secure business website
In this day and age, a business website is one of the most important tools that you can have in your marketing arsenal. It’s a great way to reach out to potential customers and clients, and it can be a powerful tool for promoting your brand online. Some of the advantages of having a faster, more secure business website are:
– It will help you rank higher in search engine results pages.
– It will make your site more user-friendly.
– It will increase your conversion rate.
– It will give you an edge over your competition.
What are some other benefits of using an optimized web hosting service?
One benefit is that you can get more traffic to your website. This is because an optimized web hosting service can help you improve your website’s search engine ranking. This, in turn, can lead to more people finding and visiting your website.
Another benefit of using an optimized web hosting service is that you can improve the speed and performance of your website. This is because an optimized hosting service can provide you with a faster server and better resources. This can help your website load faster and run more smoothly.
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