- Ottawa reports five more COVID-19 cases Wednesday.
- There are four more cases in the Outaouais.
Today’s Ottawa update
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported five more COVID-19 cases Wednesday and no new deaths.
The health agency removed 12 cases from its total, as it’s been doing from time to time as it double-checks its database (often due to residents living in other regions).
There are 43 known active cases in the capital.
Its medical officer of health said last week getting vaccinated and following familiar rules such as masking and distancing can stop COVID-19 from taking hold again.
Numbers to watch
0.5%: Ottawa’s average COVID-19 test positivity rate is unchanged.
0.95: The number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t). A number under one is a sign the spread is slowing.
3.8: The weekly incidence rate, a rolling seven-day total of new COVID-19 cases expressed per 100,000 residents.
0: The number of active COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa.
0: The number of Ottawa residents being treated for COVID-19 in an Ottawa hospital.
768,618: As of Wednesday, the number of Ottawa residents who have received at least the first vaccine dose, about 1,200 more than on Monday..
668,736: The number of Ottawa residents who are fully vaccinated, which is about 6,700 more than two days ago.
83%: The percentage of Ottawa residents 12 and up — all those who are currently eligible for a vaccine — who have at least one vaccine dose.
72%: The percentage of eligible Ottawa residents who are fully vaccinated.
Across the region
There are currently fewer than 100 known active cases in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
Most local health units are generally reporting an average of a new case or two per day at most and aren’t reporting any COVID-19 hospital patients or outbreaks.
The Outaouais has been averaging slightly more cases, including four more cases Wednesday.
An outbreak from a party north of Trenton is now linked to seven confirmed cases.
In eastern Ontario, most units have met the province’s fully vaccinated threshold for the next reopening step.
Ontario is currently under Step 3 of the province’s pandemic reopening plan.
All of Quebec is under green zone rules.
Canada Pension Plan reports $23-billion loss in June quarter as markets churn – The Globe and Mail
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board said it lost 4.2 per cent in its most recent quarter, subtracting $23-billion from the fund’s assets.
It could have been worse: The three months ended June 30 were awful for most investors. According to Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC I&TS All Plan Universe, defined benefit pension plan assets decreased by 8.6 per cent, tied with the third quarter of 2008 for the biggest decline in the 28 years RBC has been began tracking Canadian plan performance.
The S&P Global LargeMidCap Index, a measure of stocks CPPIB uses as 85 per cent of its benchmark reference portfolio, fell nearly 13.5 per cent in the quarter. The FTSE Canada Universe All Government Bond Index, the remaining 15 per cent of the benchmark, fell nearly 6 per cent. Blended, that means CPPIB beat a benchmark of negative 12.4 per cent by more than eight percentage points.
CPPIB closed the quarter with assets of $523-billion, compared to $539-billion at the end of the previous quarter. The investment losses were offset by $7-billion in contributions from the Canada pension Plan.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when global markets tumbled, the CPPIB asset mix blunted the pain, and the pension fund manager lost much less money than an ordinary investor in the stock market. However, CPPIB often trails when public stock markets rise rapidly, as they did in several recent quarters when investors shook off their pandemic fears.
Now, we have returned to falling markets, and CPPIB is outperforming them.
“Financial markets experienced the most challenging first six months of the year in the last half century, and the fund’s first fiscal quarter was not immune to such widespread decline,” John Graham, CPPIB chief executive officer, said in a statement accompanying the returns. “The uncertain business and investment conditions we noted in the previous quarter continue, and we expect to see this turbulence persist throughout the fiscal year.”
CPPIB said its loss was driven by declines in public stock markets, but investments in private equity, credit and real estate also contributed “modestly.” CPPIB also lost money in fixed income investments, such as bonds, due to higher interest rates imposed by central banks to fight inflation.
Gains by external portfolio managers, quantitative trading strategies and investments in energy and infrastructure contributed positively. CPPIB also recorded foreign exchange gains of $3.1-billion as the Canadian dollar weakened against the U.S. dollar. (Most of CPPIB’s investments are held outside Canada, but it reports results in Loonies.)
The Canada Pension Plan, founded in 1966, is the primary national retirement program for working Canadians. The government created CPPIB in 1999 to professionally manage the plan’s money. Over time, CPPIB has embraced active management and its blend of stocks, bonds, real estate, infrastructure, private equity and other specialized investments has outperformed public markets and its reference portfolio.
While CPPIB reports quarterly, it points to its multigenerational mandate and likes to emphasize its long-term returns. The plan’s five-year net return, net of investment costs, was 8.7 per cent through June 30; the 10-year net return was 10.3 per cent.
CPPIB’s annualized return for the 10 years ended last Sept. 30 was, at 11.6 per cent, the highest 10-year performance figure in its history.
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U.S. inflation runs cooler than forecast, easing pressure on Fed – BNN Bloomberg
US inflation decelerated in July by more than expected, reflecting lower energy prices, which may take some pressure off the Federal Reserve to continue aggressively hiking interest rates.
The consumer price index increased 8.5 per cent from a year earlier, cooling from the 9.1 per cent June advance that was the largest in four decades, Labor Department data showed Wednesday. Prices were unchanged from the prior month. A decline in gasoline offset increases in food and shelter costs.
So-called core CPI, which strips out the more volatile food and energy components, rose 0.3 per cent from June and 5.9 per cent from a year ago. The core and overall measures came in below forecast.
The data may give the Fed some breathing room, and the cooling in gas prices, as well as used cars, offers respite to consumers. But annual inflation remains high at more than 8 per cent and food costs continue to rise, providing little relief for President Joe Biden and the Democrats ahead of midterm elections.
COST OF LIVING
While a drop in gasoline prices is good news for Americans, their cost of living is still painfully high, forcing many to load up on credit cards and drain savings. After data last week showed still-robust labor demand and firmer wage growth, a further deceleration in inflation could take some of the urgency off the Fed to extend outsize interest-rate hikes.
Treasury yields slid across the curve while the S&P 500 was higher and the dollar plunged. Traders now see a 50-basis-point rate increase next month as more likely, rather than 75.
“This is a necessary print for the Fed, but it’s not sufficient,” Michael Pond, head of inflation market strategy at Barclays Plc said on Bloomberg TV. “We need to see a lot more.”
Fed officials have said they want to see months of evidence that prices are cooling, especially in the core gauge. They’ll have another round of monthly CPI and jobs reports before their next policy meeting on Sept. 20-21.
Gasoline prices fell 7.7 per cent in July, the most since April 2020, after rising 11.2 per cent a month earlier. Utility prices fell 3.6 per cent from June, the most since May 2009.
Food costs, however, climbed 10.9 per cent from a year ago, the most since 1979. Used car prices decreased.
What Bloomberg Economics Says…
“With rents still pushing higher and elevated wages beginning to seep into services inflation, we expect this pause to be short-lived. Core CPI could approach 7 per cent in the coming months — despite our assumption of moderation in goods prices.”
–Anna Wong and Andrew Husby, economists
Shelter costs — which are the biggest services’ component and make up about a third of the overall CPI index — rose 0.5 per cent from June and 5.7 per cent from last year, the most since 1991. That reflected a 0.7 per cent jump in rent of primary of residence. Hotels, meanwhile, fell 3.2 per cent.
Elsewhere in leisure, airfares dropped 7.8 per cent from the prior month, the most in nearly a year.
While prices are showing signs of moderating, there are several factors that risk keeping inflation high. Housing costs are a big one, as well as unexpected supply shocks. And wages are still climbing at a historically fast pace, concerning some economists of a so-called wage-price spiral.
However, those gains aren’t keeping up with inflation. A separate report showed real average hourly earnings fell 3 per cent in July from a year earlier, dropping every month since April 2021.
“We’re seeing a stronger labor market, where jobs are booming and Americans are working, and we’re seeing some signs that inflation may be beginning to moderate,” Biden said after the report. He cautioned, “we could face additional headwinds in the months ahead,” citing the war in Europe, supply-chain delays and pandemic-related disruptions in Asia.
The impact of inflation on wages has started to dent spending, with the pace of personal consumption growth decelerating between the first and second quarters.
That said, consumer expectations for US inflation declined sharply in the latest survey by the New York Fed, suggesting Americans have some confidence that prices will come off the boil in the next one to five years.
These are the Canadian companies laying off staff amid the post-pandemic tech wreck – Yahoo Canada Finance
Social media management platform Hootsuite Inc. became the latest Canadian tech company to issue major layoffs when it announced it was cutting 30 per cent of its staff on Tuesday.
The move comes as a cooling economy has dimmed the prospects for high-growth companies, especially those that benefitted from the shift to e-commerce during the pandemic.
Giants such as Amazon.com Inc. have not been immune from the changing economic picture, either. Earlier this month, Amazon said it had reduced its staffing levels by 100,000 positions by slowing hiring.
Here’s a rundown of the major tech layoffs that have hit Canada recently.
Vancouver-based Hootsuite said Tuesday’s 30 per cent cut to global staffing would bring its head count to just over 1,000 and was part of an effort to restructure the company.
In an email statement, chief executive Tom Keiser said the move was made as the company refocuses its strategies “to drive efficiency, growth and financial sustainability.”
“We want to be very clear this decision is not a reflection on them, or their work. It is indicative of a change to our business that realigns our strategies with the positions we need to be successful,” Keiser said.
Last month, the company announced a rebranding, saying it was time to rethink its “integrated branding strategy to better reflect our position and our direction as the social experts, trusted partners, and joyful mentors.”
Canadian tech giant Shopify Inc. was the most prominent company to cut staff when it laid off 10 per cent of its staff on July 26 after a bet on continuous e-commerce growth failed to pay off.
The cuts of approximately 1,000 employees primarily affected those in recruiting, support and sales.
Chief executive Tobi Lütke said the company expected the surge it saw at the height of the pandemic to be permanent and thought they had to expand to keep pace. Instead, growth has since fallen back to pre-COVID trendlines as consumers now return to shopping at physical retail stores.
“Ultimately, placing this bet was my call to make and I got this wrong. Now, we have to adjust,” Lütke said.
Vancouver-based online furniture retailer Article laid off 216 employees, or 17 per cent of its team, last week.
In a post on Article’s website, co-founder and chief executive Aamir Baig said the company was operating “at a size larger than current demand would sustain” and needed to resize the business.
“Like many eCommerce companies, we benefited tremendously from the demand increase from COVID. We anticipated the trend to online purchasing would be sustained — that did not happen, and it has since returned to pre-COVID trends,” he said.
Michele Romanow’s startup Clearco laid off 25 per cent of its workforce on July 29, saying the company increased its headcount too quickly in anticipation of continued growth.
Clearco said 125 people of their 500-person team were affected by the cuts.
In a memo to staff, the Dragons’ Den star said they were building to match the growth of the economy and are now facing “significant headwinds” that didn’t exist six months ago.
Wealthsimple laid off 13 per cent of its workforce on June 16, citing “immense volatility” in markets. The financial services company said it let go of 159 of its 1,262 employees.
In a letter to staff, chief executive Michael Katchen positioned the cuts as part of the fallout from months of seeing the market soar and Wealthsimple grow at an “unprecedented” rate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With reporting from the Canadian Press
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