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Core inflation shows no signs of relenting in U.S., raising odds of more big rate hikes

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The Federal Reserve building in Washington on Aug. 22, 2018.CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

Inflation in the United States showed few signs of easing in September, reinforcing expectations that the Federal Reserve will deliver another oversized increase in interest rates next month and creating a political headache for the Biden administration ahead of key midterm elections.

The U.S. Labour Department said on Thursday that core consumer price inflation, which excludes volatile food and gasoline prices, hit an annual rate of 6.6 per cent last month, the fastest pace in four decades. This puts pressure on the Fed to keep increasing borrowing costs, even as the U.S. economy, and the global economy more broadly, slows down.

The strength and persistence of U.S. inflation is reverberating around the world. The Fed’s aggressive campaign to increase interest rates has made it more expensive to borrow money, while also pushing up the value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies, including the Canadian dollar, which increases the cost of U.S. imports.

Thursday’s strong inflation reading could put pressure on the Bank of Canada to continue raising interest rates to keep pace with the Fed. It also increases the odds of a global recession, as higher borrowing costs squeeze U.S. businesses and consumers, particularly in sectors that are interest-rate sensitive, such as housing.

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High inflation has become a political liability for the Biden administration and the Democratic Party ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 8. Republicans have slammed their Democrat opponents on cost-of-living issues, drowning out their attempts to take credit for the country’s strong job market and rapid economic recovery from pandemic lows.

President Joe Biden acknowledged on Thursday that Americans are being squeezed by rising prices. “That’s been true for years, and they didn’t need today’s report to tell them that,” he said in a statement. Inflation is “still too high,” he said, but added that “everyday costs will go up – not down” if the Republicans take control of Congress.

Overall consumer price index inflation in the U.S. was 8.2 per cent last month, down slightly from 8.3 per cent in August and a four-decade high of 9.1 per cent in June.

“This is not what the Fed wants to see six months into one of the most aggressive tightening cycles in decades,” Bank of Montreal senior economist Sal Guatieri wrote in a note to clients.

The central bank has announced three consecutive hikes of 75 basis points, and forecasters now expect another 75-basis-point move in November, and further increases in December and early next year. A basis point is a hundredth of a percentage point.

The Fed – the world’s largest and most influential central bank – has turned increasingly hawkish in recent months in a bid to prevent high inflation from becoming entrenched and to shore up its credibility as an inflation-fighter.

Minutes from the central bank’s most recent rate decision, in September, show that officials are more concerned about doing too little to combat price increases than doing too much and causing a painful economic contraction.

“As the Fed continues with this very aggressive pace of interest-rate hikes, we think more weakness lies in store,” Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics, said in a webcast on Thursday. “We now think the economy is headed for a recession over the coming quarters. We think it should be a relatively mild recession by past standards, but we are penciling in declines in GDP over the first half of next year.”

Stock markets responded to the inflation data with a wild swing. The S&P 500 index fell nearly 2 per cent when markets opened, but quickly rallied, finishing the day up 2.6 per cent. Meanwhile, the yield on two-year U.S. government Treasury bonds jumped more than 20 basis points at the open, hitting 4.5 per cent for the first time since 2007, before ending the day at 4.47 per cent.

The September data show the key drivers of U.S. inflation are shifting from goods to services. Energy prices were down 2.1 per cent that month, led by a 4.6-per-cent drop in gasoline prices. The cost of used cars, clothing and appliances also fell.

But this was offset by a rise in the price of food, medical care and shelter. Rental prices increased 0.8 per cent compared with August. Owners’ equivalent rent, a measure of housing costs for owner-occupied dwellings, also rose 0.8 per cent – the biggest monthly jump since June, 1990.

“The labor-intensive services sector continues to be the main driver behind the persistently high core inflation trends and as the labour market keeps up its strength there is no reason to see this abating in the near term,” Toronto-Dominion Bank analysts, including rate strategist Oscar Munoz, and head of global rates strategy Priya Misra, wrote in a note to clients.

“The only possible bright point is that core goods inflation was flat over the month in September after increasing in the preceding months. This might become negative over the coming months, somewhat counteracting against sticky high core services inflation.”

Last week, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said the strength of the U.S. dollar, and the Canadian dollar’s relative weakness, means the central bank may have to do more to bring down inflation. The Bank of Canada does not formally target exchange rates, but it does monitor them closely.

“Normally when we raise interest rates, the exchange rate actually appreciates. And so that does part of the work for us. This time, that’s not happening. So other things equal, as economists like to say, that means we have more to do with interest rates,” Mr. Macklem said.

Many analysts expect the Bank of Canada to announce another half-point interest-rate hike at its next rate decision, on Oct. 26.

Mr. Macklem will address reporters on Friday from Washington, where central bankers and finance officials are attending the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

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Oil Markets Are Bearish But Downside Is Limited – OilPrice.com

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Oil Markets Are Bearish But Downside Is Limited | OilPrice.com


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Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com. 

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  • Oil prices fell to their lowest level this year on Wednesday morning, a clear sign of bearish sentiment in the oil market despite the recent price cap.
  • Despite bearish sentiment, Standard Chartered says that the downside to oil is limited as fundamentals are supportive and there are no major bearish catalysts looming.
  • Regarding the oil price cap, Standard Chartered has predicted that it will have little effect on oil prices as the main importers of Russian oil are not taking part.

Bearish

WTI and Brent crude oil prices fell for a third straight session on Tuesday, with the U.S. benchmark now at its lowest level in a year. Front-month Nymex crude for January delivery closed the day -3.5% to $74.25/bbl, its lowest in nearly a year, while February Brent crude finished -4% to $79.35/bbl, its weakest close since January 3. It’s now clear that the broader market selloff and worries about more aggressive monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve have overshadowed any positive effect from the new price cap on Russian oil sales. 

Oil traders have been anxiously waiting to see how the price cap on Russian oil will affect the market, but the measure is yet to impact prices. 

Meanwhile, data released on Monday showed the U.S. ISM service sector index climbed slightly to 56.5% in November from 54.4% in October, which “triggered red flashing signals the Federal Reserve may keep interest rates higher for longer, increasing the odds of a U.S. recession and less energy use,’’ Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, has told Morningstar. The ISM surveys non-manufacturing (or services) firms’ purchasing and supply executives. The services report measures business activity for the overall economy; above 50 indicates growth, while below 50 indicates contraction.

Bearish Oil Price Sentiment

So, just how bearish has sentiment become in the oil markets? 

According to commodity analysts at Standard Chartered, speculative positioning in crude oil has been unremarkable through most of 2022, but has changed in recent weeks. The analysts have revealed that their proprietary crude oil money-manager positioning index that compares net longs across the four main New York and London-based crude contracts relative to open interest and historical norms is currently more negative than those for all other commodities they track. StanChart says that In recent months, crude oil has remained close to the bottom of the ranking of metals and energy in terms of implied positive speculative preference, while gasoline has been close to the top.

StanChart’s crude oil index currently stands at -70.3, the lowest since mid-April

2020 (about a week before WTI prices settled at a negative price). The index has now fallen

by 57.4 over the past three weeks marking the largest three-week fall since February

2020, just before the temporary collapse of the OPEC+ agreement.

Oil positioning

Source: Standard Chartered

However, StanChart says the situation this time around is very different from what it was during the historic oil price collapse of 2020, which is likely to limit the downside on oil prices. For one, the analysts note that oil market fundamentals are far more supportive this time than they were in early 2020; demand is not about to collapse due to a pandemic and no price wars by producers are present at the moment. 

The experts say that oil prices are caught in the backwash from top-down macro trades with both positive and negative news on the economic front triggering selloffs. 

According to StanChart, negative U.S. economic data points are triggering an oil price selloff due to recessionary fears; however, positive data points are, ironically, having a similar effect due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar. 

Further, sentiment had been buoyed by hopes of China reopening, but as timescales dragged many traders have preferred to bet more in the metals markets instead. 

Luckily for the oil bulls, the commodity experts say the new shorts are relatively weak and will soon be covered, helping to shore up oil, though in the short-term the market is likely to accentuate the negative.

Regarding the price cap on Russian sea-borne oil, StanChart has predicted that it will have little effect on oil prices. The analysts note that China, India, and Turkey are the three key swing

consumers of Russian oil and none has yet suggested that they would consider signing up to the cap. Without the participation of those three countries, the amount of Russian oil likely to move subject to the cap would likely be small even if Russia agreed to sell oil under those terms (which it has repeatedly said it will not). 

The big question here in terms of market impact is then whether Russia can transport oil to its major consumers (including providing adequate insurance) without using EU or other G7 services. StanChart says that Russia has acquired a large enough ‘shadow’ tanker fleet since its invasion of Ukraine that it can use to move most of the displaced volumes; however, the analysts note that the insurance aspect is likely to cause significant issues. This has led analysts to predict that Russian crude output is likely to fall by 1.44 million barrels per day in 2023 thanks to a progressive shortage of high-quality equipment and a lack of access to international service companies as time goes by.

By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com

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When Job Hunting Your Image is Everything (Part 1)

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Impress Your Interviewer with Your Questions — Part 1

This column is the first of a 2-part series discussing an aspect that most job seekers ignore, the image they project to employers.

Part 1: Getting noticed is your image’s job.

“Image is everything. You don’t spare any expense to create the right image. And word of mouth is critical. Once you get a good reputation, momentum will carry you.”

Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

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Four questions you should ask yourself as a job seeker:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I do, or what would I like to do?
  • Why does it matter?
  • How do I want others to perceive me?

 

In answering these questions with definitive answers, you’ll become more strategic regarding how you present yourself (physically and verbally), which influences the impression people have of you.

“Image” is one of the oldest forms of nonverbal communication used to attract others. A person’s appearance is often used to judge their integrity, credibility and level of professionalism. The right image can open doors, draw attention to strengths and qualities, and open doors to life-changing possibilities.

Since first impressions are everlasting, my first rule when job searching is: Image is everything.

(My second rule: Don’t look for a job. Instead, look for where you’ll be accepted. Think: “I’m not looking for a job; I’m looking for my tribe!”)

The notion that your image significantly impacts your career—actually, your image influences all aspects of your life—makes many uncomfortable. The majority of people would rather be heads-down, focusing on their work, with their fingers crossed that their work alone will propel them forward, not their image. However, as creatures of our environment, we form perceptions based on what we see. By being aware of this and how your image is directly correlated with how you’re perceived, you can craft an image that attracts opportunities rather than repels them.

People don’t have much imagination when it comes to other people. What you show them—what they see—is the only thing they’ll first know about you, which we all learn at an early age; thus, why “What I show is what they’ll know” is ground-zero social guidance. Hence, we have a fashion industry, sexy sports car models, plastic surgery, Invisalign, and multiple brands to self-identify with for essentially the same product (e.g., soft drinks, coffee, jeans, etc.).

The constant effort to create an image in the hopes of being noticed and accepted is why for many people, “approval nods” are essential to their self-esteem. Consequently, when employers don’t give approval nods, their egos and self-confidence suffer badly, and why heartbreak is a frequent occurrence when conducting a job search.

A stranger forms a first impression of you in about seven seconds. In today’s increasingly open and interconnected world, where employers can easily research you to determine if you’re interview-worthy, your overall presentation is increasingly important to your job search and career success.

Then there’s the initial meeting when the interviewer’s opinion of you will determine whether you advance in the hiring process. As much as it may offend you, your interviewer’s opinion of you will be based on your image.

When I was starting out, still trying to reach the first rung of the ladder, an advertising executive gave me this advice: “Create the image you want the world to see and constantly work at living up to it.” Then to emphasize his point, he mentioned Madonna, Norman Mailer, Tupac Shakur, and Mother Theresa as examples.

Your what I call “pre-screen image,” which includes your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other digital footprints, is what gets you in the door—in front of those who’ll judge your suitability for the job and your fit with the company’s culture. In other words, are you one of them? This “Are you one of us?” judgment is why I view employers as exclusive clubs. Afterward, once you’ve been selected for an interview, you must look at “the part.”

Forget facts and logic, especially at the initial stages of the hiring process. Recent research reveals that a person’s image and emotional projections far outweigh facts and logical conclusions about them.

According to studies, people understand images faster than words and remember them for longer periods. Whenever there is a discrepancy between what we see and hear, our brains tend to believe what we see. A potent image speaks to us on a symbolic level, feeding us information by intuition and association.

 

TRUTH BOMB: Seeing is believing.

Before you return to your job search, ask yourself this question: What does my image say about who I am? It’s common for me to hear a job seeker tell me they are this and that… blah, blah, blah, yet what I see contradicts what they’re trying to convince me to believe about them. In other words, their image makes it hard for me to believe what they’re saying about themselves.

Does your image work in your favor or against you?

In my next column, I’ll discuss the second hardest part of your image’s job, making employers fall in love with you.

______________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

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‘More than disappointing’: Air Canada to stop direct flights to Calgary from Regina, Saskatoon

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Saskatchewan residents looking to fly direct to Alberta’s largest city will soon have one less airline with which to do so.

CBC News has confirmed that Air Canada will be cancelling direct flights from the Saskatoon and Regina airports to Calgary in mid-January.

“It is a bit disappointing for the airport and the community,” said C.J. Dushinski, the Saskatoon Airport Authority’s vice president of business development and service quality.

“It certainly limits the amount of options available for travellers that are looking to get to Calgary or looking to travel beyond the connect.”

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Dushinski and Justin Reves, the Regina airport’s manager of customer experience and marketing, told CBC News that Air Canada informed their respective airports that direct service to Calgary will end Jan. 16.

The Saskatoon airport authority hopes the airline will add additional seats to other hubs, such as Toronto and Vancouver, and that WestJet will add seats or service to Calgary, Dushinski said.

The Regina airport has contacted other airlines, including WestJet, about potential service, Reves said.

“Calgary is a huge market for the city of Regina,” he said.

“A lot of people, friends, family, business connections [are] there, and it’s primarily going to be disappointing for Air Canada customers who are used to being able to fly that route.”

Air Canada only offered one direct flight per day from Regina to Calgary, he added, in comparison with West Jet, which currently runs several flights daily.

Focus on rebuilding main hubs of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, Air Canada says

People flying out of Saskatoon and Regina will continue to see flights to and from Toronto and Vancouver, an Air Canada spokesperson told CBC News.

Saskatchewan residents will still be able to fly to Calgary, but only via other destinations, such as Vancouver.

Public health guidelines aimed to stymie the potential spread of COVID-19 affected all travel. Airports and airlines hemorrhaged money as a result of lower passenger traffic.

Air Canada has made changes to various routes to and from Calgary as it rebuilds from the impact of the pandemic, which means examining the network and where it would be most productive to deploy resources, the spokesperson said.

The airline has decided to focus on rebuilding its main hubs: Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, they said.

The announcement is a savvy business move, said Karl Moore, an associate professor with McGill University’s faculty of management in Montreal. He has previously consulted for Air Canada, among other companies.

Air Canada is looking at load levels — how many people fill certain flights and how much they pay — to see which flights are unprofitable, or which routes or hubs could be more profitable, Moore explained.

“They spend a lot of time thinking about that and that’s what good business people do,” Moore said, noting that WestJet made a similar move by cutting service on the east coast.

In an open letter to Air Canada, Economic Development Regina also expressed their concern and disappointment about the airline’s move to cancel direct flights from Saskatchewan to Calgary.

The suspension of these routes triples the travel time between Saskatchewan’s capital and Calgary, said Chris Lane, president and CEO of Economic Development Regina.

His organization is asking Air Canada to reconsider their decision and to commit to an expansion of their service to Regina, while looking at the city’s role when it comes to supplying “sustainable food and fertilizer” to the world, said Lane.

“As one of Canada’s fastest growing economies and population areas, the need for connectivity and the opportunity it presents for airlines is as necessary as it is mutually beneficial,” he said in the letter.

“[Regina’s] population will grow by almost 10 per cent in the next five years. Calgary’s numbers are similar and so are Saskatoon’s. That the flag carrier airline of Canada would choose to suspend direct connectivity between these regions at this time is more than disappointing; it is ill-considered.”

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