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Canadian inflation hits fresh 30-year high in January, rate hikes loom

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Canada’s annual inflation rate accelerated again in January to hit a fresh 30-year high at 5.1%, as food and housing costs continued to rise, official data showed on Wednesday, bolstering the case for a steady series of interest rates hikes.

January’s figure is the highest since 5.5% recorded in September 1991 and the 10th consecutive month above the Bank of Canada’s 1%-to-3% control range, Statistics Canada data showed. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected inflation to remain at 4.8% in January.

“It’s hotter than expected,” said Derek Holt, vice president of capital markets economics at Scotiabank. “To me this suggests that the economy is moving on from Omicron’s effects.

“The restrictions may have added a little bit to the inflationary pressures. But there is certainly no slowdown,” he added.

Shelter costs jumped 6.2% in January year-on-year, the fastest pace since February 1990, while food prices rose 5.7% as shopping for groceries became more expensive, both on supply chain issues and unfavorable growing conditions.

With price gains widespread, it appears businesses are passing on cost increases to consumers, analysts said. Rising energy prices, Canada’s record-smashing housing market, and wage pressure are set to send inflation still higher.

“Simply put, this is far too hot for comfort for the Bank of Canada, so expect a steady series of rate hikes in the coming meetings,” Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note.

Porter expects four hikes in a row, to start, but added “it may well require much more than that to bring inflation to heel.”

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem has said interest rates need to rise to tackle hot inflation and Canadians should expect multiple hikes.

Still, analysts doubted the data would be enough to sway the central bank to hike by 50 basis points rather than 25 basis points at its March 2 policy meeting. Money markets see about a 30% chance of the larger increase.

“It’s clear that central bankers need to tighten policy, but high household debt levels will temper the Bank of Canada’s aggressiveness,” Royce Mendes, head of macro strategy at Desjardins Group, said in a note.

The CPI common measure, which the central bank says is the best gauge of the economy’s underperformance, rose to 2.3% from 2.1% in December.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.2% higher at 1.2684 to the greenback, or 78.84 U.S. cents.

(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer in Ottawa, and Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by David Holmes, Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis)

Economy

Rural development grants to spark Nicola Valley economy – Global News

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The province announced on Friday a series of rural development grants in the Nicola Valley to support economic development and diversification.

This is the next step in the StrongerBC Economic Plan and the ongoing recovery efforts in Merritt following the floods in November last year.

“People in Merritt have been through a lot in the past year, and they know how important business recovery is for community rebuilding,” said parliamentary secretary for rural and regional development Roly Russell in a press release.

The provincial government is providing a $1-million rural development grant to the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association to build a community abattoir in the Merritt area.

Read more:

B.C. announces $228M to help farmers, ranchers impacted by floods

This will provide meat processing and cut-and-wrap services to local farmers and ranchers.

“This project represents significant job and economic opportunities for the region, while ensuring local ranches, abattoirs and businesses are part of a strong, resilient B.C. food system,” said minister of agriculture and food Lana Popham in a press release.

“With the recent changes to B.C.’s meat-licensing system and investments in facilities like the Nicola Valley community abattoir, this revitalization of the small-scale meat industry makes it easier to produce, buy and sell B.C. meat in our rural communities, and helps strengthen our food security and food resiliency.”

The abattoir will be a government-inspected licensed facility with a full range of services to process red meat.

According to the province, local producers have been impacted by the lack of processing capacity. Julia Smith who is a pork and beef producer in Merrit is hopeful this new facility will help her business as well as other local producers.

“My partner and I moved to the Nicola Valley in 2016 planning to expand our business to meet the growing demand for well-raised, local meat. But we soon found that the processors we relied upon were not able to keep up with our production and we had to scale the business back instead of growing it.”


Click to play video: 'More than 900 people still displaced following Merritt flooding last fall'



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More than 900 people still displaced following Merritt flooding last fall


More than 900 people still displaced following Merritt flooding last fall – Feb 25, 2022

“We were on the verge of giving up. But now we are ready to press on, because this facility will allow us, and other local family farms and ranches, to grow and thrive while providing greater food security for the community.”

The province is providing a $1-million rural development grant to the Scw’exmx Tribal Council toward Gateway 286 in Merritt.

“After an unbelievable year of fires, floods, and a pandemic, we welcome the B.C. government’s $1-million grant that will bolster our rural community, support good-paying jobs and much-needed economic development,” said Spayum Holdings LP director and Scw’exmx Tribal Council Terrence (Lee) Spahan in a press release.

“The Gateway 286 project is a 30-plus-year vision of past and present Nicola Valley Indigenous Chiefs and these monies will take our commercial and tourism development one more step closer to reality. This project will enhance the experience of the [traveling] public by providing much-needed services, and it will provide good-paying jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the residents of the Nicola Valley.”

Meanwhile, the City of Merritt is receiving a $500,000 grant related to economic recovery for communities that were affected by the flooding. The grant will go towards completing economic development projects and initiatives to support long-term economic recovery.

This is in addition to $329,000 in provincial funding for the City of Merritt to update flood-hazard mapping and develop new flood-mitigation plans.


Click to play video: 'Anger grows over Merritt evacuations'



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Anger grows over Merritt evacuations


Anger grows over Merritt evacuations – Nov 28, 2021

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Economy

China's Economy Contracts Sharply as Covid Zero Cuts Output – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — China’s economy contracted in April, with Covid outbreaks and lockdowns dragging the industrial and consumer sectors down to the weakest levels since early 2020 as millions of residents were confined to their homes and factories were forced to halt production. 

Industrial output fell 2.9% in April from a year ago, worse than the median estimate of a 0.5% increase in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Retail sales contracted 11.1% in the period, weaker than a projected 6.6% drop. The unemployment rate climbed to 6.1%, higher than the forecast of 6%.

China’s economy has taken an enormous toll from the government’s stringent efforts to keep the virus at bay. Beijing has insisted on sticking with its Covid Zero strategy to curb infections, even though the high transmissibility of omicron puts cities at greater risk of repeatedly locking down and reopening compared to earlier strains. 

“Covid outbreaks in April had a big impact on the economy, but the impact is short-term,” the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. “With progress in Covid controls and policies to stabilize the economy taking effect, the economy is likely to recover gradually.”

China’s benchmark CSI 300 stock index was down 0.3% as of 10:04 am local time. The onshore yuan was little changed at 6.7917 per dollar. The yield on the 10-year government bonds rose 1 basis point to 2.83%.

Fixed-asset investment increased 6.8% in the first four months of the year, largely in line with projected growth of 7%, likely supported by the government’s push to expand infrastructure spending.

The economic shocks from the zero-tolerance policy have pushed China’s ambitious full-year growth target of around 5.5% further out of reach, and is weighing on the global growth outlook. 

Beijing has signaled that policy makers will step up support for the economy, with Premier Li Keqiang recently urging officials to ensure stability through fiscal and monetary policy.

The People’s Bank of China took steps on Sunday to ease a housing crunch by reducing mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers. It left the interest rate on one-year policy loans unchanged on Monday, as inflation pressure and worries about capital outflows reduce the scope for more easing.  

Monetary stimulus is proving less effective because of the stringent virus restrictions, with data on Friday showing businesses and consumers had little appetite to borrow in April. Credit growth weakened sharply last month, with new yuan loans sinking to the lowest level since December 2017.

(Updates with comment from statistics office)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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Potential of Seaweed on Economy Being Explored in Upcoming Webinar – VOCM

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A webinar on the potential of seaweed as an economic driver is coming later this month.

The webinar, put together by The Laurentic Forum Consortium, will look at how coastal communities can use an abundance of seaweed to boost the economy, as seaweed is being used as fertilizer, diet supplements, bioplastics, animal feed, pharmaceutical products, and much more.

Webinar moderator and the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation, Keith Hutchings, says seaweed farming could provide opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

He says if utilized correctly, communities and regions can add one more industry to help sustain them.

The webinar is taking place May 19.

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