MONTREAL, Ont. — Canadian National Railway Co. has laid off about 4,000 employees from its workforce this year as profits sagged 60 per cent in the second quarter amid fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shipments declined nearly across the board, prompting layoffs that left the country’s largest railroad operator down 5,100 employees from June 2019, when it had some 26,500 workers.
Roughly 3,000 of the 4,000 workers who were let go in 2020 are on furlough — meaning they can be recalled if business picks up — while some 1,000 others were permanently laid off, said CEO JJ Ruest.
“We unfortunately had to do quite a few layoffs. The good news is we’re starting to recall some people back to work,” Ruest said on a conference call with analysts on Tuesday.
The pandemic “adversely impacted” earnings, with revenue from auto and petroleum/chemicals shipments dropping 72 per cent and 25 per cent year-over-year, respectively, CN said.
Container shipments — CN’s most lucrative category at $874 million, accounting for close to one-third of freight revenue — declined by 12 per cent as consumer spending plummeted amid lockdowns and store closures.
The railway’s “trough” in May saw furlough numbers peak in lockstep with low points such as a 90 per cent plunge in auto revenue that month, Ruest said.
Cautious optimism remains, however. After taking 14,500 cars off the tracks between April and June, CN has started to bring some out of storage for auto and lumber traffic. With more cars come more recalled workers.
“We’re very methodical about bringing them back,” said chief operating officer Rob Reilly. “We’re still trying to figure out what the future volume’s going to be.”
Grain and fertilizer shipments held firm in the second quarter, helping to mitigate damage from other categories at the company.
CN set records for grain volume in four consecutive months this year. The planned acquisition of 1,500 high-capacity hopper cars aims to continue that trend, CN said.
Nonetheless, net income dropped to $545 million in the quarter ended June 30, compared with $1.36 billion a year earlier.
Revenue decreased by $750 million or 19 per cent year-over-year to $3.21 billion in the second quarter, the Montreal-based company said.
On an adjusted basis, diluted earnings per share fell 26 per cent to $1.28 from $1.73, matching analyst predictions, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
Canadian company urges human trials after COVID-19 vaccine in mice blocked virus – Global News
A Canadian company is telling the government on Wednesday that its trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on animals completely blocked the virus, but it must conduct human trials to know whether it has found a possible cure for the pandemic.
And a leading health-care expert says the findings are promising even though they haven’t been peer-reviewed.
Providence Therapeutics says it needs federal funding to move forward, but it has not heard back from the Trudeau government since May, the month after submitting a $35-million proposal to conduct first-stage human trials.
How close are we to a coronavirus vaccine?
Providence has told the government it could deliver five million doses of its new vaccine by mid-2021 for use in Canada if it were able to successfully complete human testing, but it has heard nothing.
Eric Marcusson, the San Francisco-based co-founder of Providence and its chief science officer, says the company has concluded testing on mice that showed its vaccine was able to block the entry of the novel coronavirus into their cells.
Successful tests in animals can provide proof of the concept behind a potential new medicine or vaccine before trials in ever-larger groups of human subjects determine how well the drug works in the body and whether it has harmful side-effects.
Trials in humans are expensive and usually time-consuming.
Coronavirus: Tam agrees with Fauci, warns vaccine will not be a ‘silver bullet’ but there is reason for ‘cautious optimism’
Mario Ostrowski, the University of Toronto professor of medicine and immunology whose laboratory performed the animal trials, said he supports the results and says they are on par with tests of vaccine candidates from the American pharmaceutical firm Moderna and Germany’s BioNTech.
All three companies use the same new mRNA vaccine technology and last week, Moderna began a 30,000-person human trial after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. government.
The U.S. has also committed to pay Germany’s BioNTech and its American partner Pfizer $1.95 billion to produce 100 million doses if their vaccine candidate proves safe and effective in humans.
The mRNA vaccine technology involves using a key fragment of genetic material instead of working with an inactive sample of live virus.
“We have been testing the prototype vaccine in animal studies,” Ostrowski told The Canadian Press. “When we give the vaccine to mice, it is safe and makes a very strong immune response and very potent antibodies.”
Ostrowski said that the strength of the antibodies found in the mice appeared to neutralize the virus better than other similar vaccine candidates have at the same testing stage.
“Another point is that the Providence vaccine is very similar to the Moderna vaccine in the U.S. and the German (BioNTech) vaccines, both showing excellent results,” added Ostrowski, who practices at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Brad Wouters, the executive vice-president of the Toronto-based University Health Network, said he has seen the new Providence data and it looks promising, but it needs to be peer-reviewed.
“The fact that the vaccine has created neutralizing antibodies means that the mouse immune system is reacting to the vaccine and producing antibodies that block the ability of the virus to infect cells,” Wouters said in an emailed response to questions.
“This suggests the results are better than even they were expecting.”
Tam: Pandemic may last for years, even with COVID-19 vaccine
But Wouters added that the Providence data needs a full peer review, and that under normal circumstances he wouldn’t even be commenting publicly on research at this stage unless it were accompanied by a published peer review.
“This is the normal and correct way for this to happen. But as you have seen, COVID-19 is breaking traditions and they (Providence) are certainly not the first to release information from experimental research in advance of publication,” said Wouters, who is also the senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
Alberta Sen. Doug Black has urged Ottawa to fund Providence so it can develop a domestic COVID-19 vaccine to lessen the risk Canadians will have wait in line for a foreign-made pandemic cure.
Several health-care professionals have also written to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to urge him to make up his mind on the Providence proposal.
The company plans to release the results publicly on Wednesday at the same time it delivers them to several relevant government departments.
“We’re still blocking the virus 100 per cent. Nothing gets in,” Marcusson said in a telephone interview from San Francisco, where he has been living in lockdown since March as the pandemic exploded in California.
“There’s no doubt this vaccine needs to be tested in humans because the results in mice are really that exceptional. This has the chance to be an extremely effective vaccine, but we won’t know for sure until we get into humans,” he said.
Marcusson is a 20-year veteran of the American biotechnology sector and had founded his own consultant business before meeting Providence chief executive Brad Sorenson in 2014. The two founded Providence in 2015 to develop cancer vaccines but it has pivoted to COVID-19. Marcusson said 20 per cent of his work remains outside the company as a consultant.
Black and several health experts say the government must move forward with a made-in-Canada vaccine because there have been troubling signs that a vaccine produced abroad likely wouldn’t be available to Canadians until much later.
Coronavirus: Anti-mask and anti-vaccine theories
Canada has already funded a the partnership between China’s CanSino Biologics and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia but China has held up shipments of the vaccine that it was supposed to send to Dalhousie researchers by the end of May to start human trials.
“They’ve already been burned a couple of times with masks not getting across the border from the U.S. and a vaccine that they helped fund not getting into the country because it was held up at customs in China,” said Marcusson.
“So, this is a vaccine that can be made in Canada for Canadians,” he added. “It would be nice if that wasn’t important, but it is important, and they need to realize this and fund a Canadian solution to this problem.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Pfizer announces deal to supply Canada with coronavirus vaccine candidate – Global News
The announcement came in the form of a tweet an hour before markets opened and two hours before a scheduled announcement from the Canadian government about vaccine procurement that is set to take place at 10 a.m.
Pfizer also last month inked a deal with the U.S. government to supply the first 100 million doses of the vaccine it is developing in December, in a partnership with BioNTech SE.
The Canadian deal also appears to be a collaboration with the biotechnology firm.
More to come.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Gold price pushes well above $2000, much more upside possible – Kitco NEWS
(Kitco News) Gold prices are sharply higher and hit a record high of $2,048.00, basis October Comex futures, in early U.S. trading Wednesday. Silver prices are also sharply higher and hit a seven-year high of $27.195, basis September Comex futures. October gold futures were last up $35.00 an ounce at $2,043.50. September Comex silver prices were last up $0.987 at $27.03 an ounce.
Gold and silver are continuing on a bullish rampage. Both metals continue to see support from safe-haven demand amid the worrisome rise in Covid-19 infections, geopolitical developments and concerns about problematic price inflation in the coming months. As the U.S. Congress appears to be getting closer to a new round of government stimulus payments to Americans, such would only add to the massive influx of liquidity into the world financial system, which has created the inflation concerns.
Global stock markets were mostly up in overnight trading. The U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward higher openings when the New York day session begins, including a new record high in the Nasdaq stock index. Hopes of a new U.S. government stimulus package for Americans coming soon are rising at mid-week on reports Democrats and Republicans are coming closer to agreement on a package. Rising crude oil prices that hit a five-month high overnight are also giving traders and investors a boost.
On tap Wednesday is the ADP national employment report for July, which is expected to show U.S. jobs growth of around 1 million. This report could move the markets when it’s released at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
The key U.S. data point of the week will be Friday’s jobs report for July from the Labor Department. The non-farm payrolls number is forecast to be up by around 1.25 million after rising by 4.8 million in June. However, don’t be surprised to see a miss from the forecasts, to likely move the markets.
The important outside markets today see Nymex crude oil prices higher, hitting a five-month high and trading around $42.75 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index is solidly lower today. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note is presently around 0.52% and near a record low.
U.S. economic data due for release Wednesday includes the weekly MBA mortgage applications survey, the ADP jobs report, the international trade report, the U.S. services PMI, the global services PMI, the ISM report on business services, and the weekly DOE liquid energy stocks report.
Technically, the gold bulls have the strong overall near-term technical advantage. Bulls’ next upside price objective is to produce a close in October futures above solid resistance at $2,100.00. Bears’ next near-term downside price objective is pushing futures prices below solid technical support at $1,950.00. First resistance is seen at the overnight high of $2,048.00 and then at $2,075.00. First support is seen at the overnight low of $2,015.50 and then at $2,000.00. Wyckoff’s Market Rating: 10.0
September silver futures bulls have the strong overall near-term technical advantage. Silver bulls’ next upside price objective is closing prices above solid technical resistance at $28.00 an ounce. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid support at this week’s low of $24.16. First resistance is seen at the overnight high of $27.195 and then at $27.50. Next support is seen at $26.00 and then at the overnight low of $25.64. Wyckoff’s Market Rating: 9.5.
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