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Global investment community begins to take stock

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According to new forecasts from UBS which take account of the effects of the coronavirus, the Chinese economy is now likely to grow at a rate of around 5.4% this year, down from the previously modelled 6%.

One of UBS’s assumptions is that the virus will be contained by the end of the quarter, and that the effects will therefore tail off as the year progresses. It’s a big assumption to make, but one which is part justified by a comparison to the effects of the SARS virus, which briefly unsettled markets back in 2003. That virus too began in Asia, and its effects in generating headlines and unsettling the investment community have indeed been comparable, albeit that it now seems clear that coronavirus is surpassing SARS in scale.

Nonetheless, markets as a whole appear for now to be following UBS’s line. A host of companies have released updates about the financial effects the virus will likely have on their bottom line, and there’s even some data out from South Korea which gives some indication of the potential impact at a national level.

So far, it’s fair to say that it’s serious, but not yet at crisis proportions.

The severity of the financial impact is also varied, depending on proximity to China, amount of business done in China, or the amount of business done with China. And although there are new reports of cases outside of China on a daily basis, including more than 60 new ones on a cruise ship docked at Yokohama, China remains the central locus and ground zero for both the physical effects of the virus and its financial impact.

At the worst end of the scale, Hong Kong’s economy is likely to suffer a contraction of 8% this quarter, with Taiwan not far behind, and the Chinese economy as a whole contracting for the first time quarter-on-quarter since 1976. These numbers are at the root of UBS’s decision to shave 0.1% off its global growth forecast for this year, a number which it now pegs at 2.9%.

Among the companies operating inside China, Disney has announced that it will take a US$280mln hit after it was forced to close down two theme parks in China that are usually busy over the New Year period. Other companies that have yet to release financial updates, but which have publicly stated they have slowed or stopped operations inside China include Airbus, Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen, Nike, Adidas, H&M, Gap and Ikea. Royal Caribbean has said it will take a US$50mln hit as a result of the travel restrictions around Hong Kong and China.

The impact on the US economy remains to be seen. President Trump’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow has said the coronavirus could shave around 0.2% off US growth, but markets responded positively to a well-flagged Chinese move to cut 1,700 tariffs on imported US goods.

The tariff reductions ought to have come anyway as a part of President Trump’s phase one US-China trade deal, but the alacrity and vigour with which they were flagged, coupled with the Chinese decision to pump more than US$242bn of new liquidity into the market, was well received internationally.

After initial nervousness at the end of January, when both the VIX and the gold price spiked, relative calm has returned, the VIX and the gold price have dropped back, and instead base metals prices and Treasury yields rose.

The big loser, to date, has been oil, with Brent down at US$55 and West Texas Intermediary at US$50 per barrel. An OPEC meeting in the first few days of February put coronavirus at the top of its agenda, but precisely what action the cartel intends remained unclear at the end of the meeting. As a bellwether for the global economy oil is worth keeping a close eye on. West Texas has dropped by nearly US$10 over the past month, and has just bounced off a 12-month low.

Another bellwether, copper, has also dropped off a cliff in the past month, but has also bounced slightly in recent days. If the coronavirus starts to fade, then that recovery is likely to gather strength fairly rapidly. On the other hand, if UBS is wrong, and the effects of coronavirus start to be felt into the second quarter and beyond, then all bets are off.

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Local startups benefit from $35000 investment – The Kingston Whig-Standard

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Kingston Economic Development Corporation is investing $35,000 in 12 entrepreneurs in Kingston through their Starter Company Plus program.

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These micro grants will aid in the growing of the local startups in getting their feet off of the ground alongside business training and personal coaching for business owners.

According to Rob Tamblyn, Business Development Manager of Small & Medium Enterprises – the pandemic as resulted in many Kingstonians pursuing their own businesses.

“We are proud to be able to offer support and guidance to them through the Kingston Economic Development,” said Tamblyn.

The wide array of businesses that will benefit from this grant span from tattoo and spa services to contracting and driving schools, he said.

“Since the pandemic, we have certainly seen an uptick in the number of inquiries from people who are wanting to go into business for themselves.” Tamblyn said, explaining the need for funding.

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Kingston Economic Development Corporation was created with the mission of supporting the Kingston economy through providing mentorship and funds to a variety of business enterprises.

Little Friday is one of the twelve businesses in the spring cohort, Soren Gregersen and Ciara Roberts, co-founders of the new video production company, spoke to the Whig about the program.

Officially opening it’s doors in February of this year, Gregersen and Roberts heard of the Starter Company Plus Program from a business that participated last year.

“We’re going to spend the money on (Search Engine Optimization) to get some online presence and a bit of money on gear so that we can up our production value and capacity,” Gregersen said, referring to the vitality of a virtual presence in early stages.

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“We’re fortunate in Kingston to be able to offer two separate cohorts, one in the spring and one in the fall.” Tamblyn said. “So we’re able to inject $70,000 into startups or existing businesses seeking to expand.”

Each year, the corporation provides $35,000 in micro grants for each cohort to local businesses with funding from the Government of Ontario. Business owners are able to receive up to $5,000 based on the strength of their business pitches, decided on by a panel of community judges.

Accepted participants not only receive funding, but also attend a week-long virtual boot camp covering market research, digital marketing, small business financing, and hiring practice to ensure that each entrepreneur is set up with the resources and information for success.

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Roberts told the Whig that the boot camp and additional resources offered by the program has been invaluable. “It gave us a week to really sit down and put pen to paper on what we wanted little Friday to be about.”

“We focused on figuring out long term goals, marketing strategies, and marketing sales forecasts (in the boot camp)”

The pair has been receiving one on one coaching from business experts where time is allotted to get specific on obstacles that arise in the early days of business.

Interested start-up owners can apply to the Fall 2022 cohort from now until September 11 through the Invest Kingston website.

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Federal government touts London, Ont. region as possible site for investment by Boeing – CTV News London

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A pair of initiatives aimed at attracting high-skilled jobs to the region have captured the attention of the federal government.

On Tuesday, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry François-Philippe Champagne sat down for an interview with CTV News London to discuss the growing electric vehicle (EV) sector and other high-tech industries in southwestern Ontario.

“I don’t know if you’ve been following me!” joked a surprised Champagne when asked about rumours that aerospace company Boeing is considering a significant investment in London and the surrounding region.

He says talks are ongoing with Boeing about further investment in Canada — and confirms this region is in the running.

“London has the key ingredients that you [need] to attract this type of investment in the industry,” the minister explains.

Boeing is one of the largest aerospace design and manufacturing companies in the world.

Champagne suggested he is targeting investments that reduce the environmental impact of the aerospace industry, in particular, greener propulsion.

“What we’ve done in the automotive sector I dream of doing in the aerospace sector, which is greening the industry,” he adds.

Earlier in the day Champagne was joined by London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos on a tour of Toyota in Woodstock, Ont. focussed on EV investments and technology.

Fragiskatos says the federal government’s ongoing push for electric vehicle and component production in Ontario brings high paying jobs to the region.

“We’re talking about close to $40/hr plus benefits, particularly in this economy its jobs like that that are going to get people through,” says Fragiskatos.

In June, the City of St. Thomas announced the purchase of a 325 hectare (800 acre) parcel of serviced land in the community’s northeast corner aimed at attracting an EV battery plant.

Champagne was aware of the shovel-ready property and enthusiastic about the opportunity.

He believes the EV industry wants to reduce the carbon footprint of battery production, making Ontario’s mostly renewable energy hydro grid very attractive.

“I would applaud what is being done in St. Thomas, and certainly that is the type of creativity that we need,” he says. 

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Smart Money: The Top 10 investment mistakes – Alaska Highway News

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I have been doing this work for a long time. Nearly 30 years. And over that span I continue to see people make the same, preventable mistakes, over and over.

Here’s my Top 10 list of unforced investment errors.

1. Getting your financial advice from social media. If you have a question about money, what makes you think your equally uniformed friends have the correct answer? People with accounting questions will consult an accountant. People with medical concerns will seek out a doctor. But people with investing questions turn to Facebook or TikTok. It’s nutty.

2. Believing in fairy tales. Yes, I understand the allure of instant riches. Especially if someone is promising outsized returns with no risk. But huge returns with no risk is a fairy tale. Or a scam.

3. Being a perpetual GIC investor. Guaranteed Investment Certificates have their role in financial planning, but if you find yourself continuously rolling over your GICs at maturity because you don’t know what else to do then what you end up with is a permanent string of low-paying investments. On an after-tax, after inflation basis you are almost certainly losing money. How safe is that?

4. Buying on greed. If the reason that you want to buy an investment is because it is showing impressive past performance and you want to get in on the action, chances are very good that you are not making a rational investment decision. And if the investment has already gone up by that much already chances are that its too late.

5. Selling on fear. If the reason that you want to sell a quality investment is because it is showing disheartening past performance and you want to get out to avoid the pain of loss, chances are very good that you are not making a rational investment decision. And if the investment has already gone down by that much already chances are that it’s too late.

6. Confusing investment costs with losses. Buying the lowest cost investment is not the same thing as buying the best investment. If you can replace the diversification and investment decision making process at a lower cost, you might be on to something. But buying an investment only because it is cheap is a good way to end up with junk.

7. Overthinking. You really don’t need to wait until you master the nuances of a covered call strategy or do up a 200-column spreadsheet with correlation analysis before you take action. People can get overwhelmed by the choices and end up paralyzed into inactivity. Simple is usually better than complicated. Just get started.

8. Overconfidence. This one is a biggie. Way too many people think they know what they are doing with their investments, but that’s only because they don’t know what they don’t know. The tricky part is few readers will recognize themselves as being overconfident, just like everyone thinks that they are an above average driver. But if the roads are filled with great drivers, why are intersections with four way stop signs so difficult for people to figure out?

9. Burying your head in the sand. Sometimes financial decisions cause great angst, and the way that some people deal with money decisions is by not dealing with money decisions. Ignoring the situation might be a coping strategy, but it’s not going to get you anywhere. Unpleasant jobs are a fact of life. Pretending that they don’t exist doesn’t make them go away, and procrastination can allow small problems to fester into big ones.

10. Confusing wants and needs. You may want a shiny new toy right now. But you still need to eat when you get to retirement. A high consumption lifestyle is fun, but draining your retirement funds to finance it is short-sighted.

These preventable mistakes are well-known. Even so, I can assure you that people all over the world will continue to make all of them.

But you don’t have to be one of those people.


Brad Brain, CFP, R.F.P., CIM, TEP is a Certified Financial Planner in Fort St John, BC. This material is prepared for general circulation and may not reflect your individual financial circumstances. Brad can be reached at www.bradbrainfinancial.com.

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