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Live updates: How Russia-Ukraine crisis is impacting markets, economy – Financial Post

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked unprecedented economic and financial retaliation from western nations which are piling on sanctions in what France has called “all-out economic and financial war.”

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But the conflict will have consequences for the whole world as it cuts off crucial energy and crop supplies, disrupts businesses and upsets financial markets, already under extreme stress as central banks prepare to tighten.

There is a lot going on out there so check here for the latest news on how the conflict is affecting markets, businesses and the economy.

3:42 p.m.

Rich Russians invest in luxury goods as ruble plunges

Russia’s wealthy are putting their money into luxury jewelry and watches to preserve the value of their savings as sanctions hit, reports Bloomberg.

Sales in Bulgari SpA’s Russian stores have risen in the last few days, the Italian jeweller’s chief executive officer said, after the international response to the nation’s invasion of Ukraine severely restricted the movement of cash.

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“In the short term it has probably boosted the business,” Jean-Christophe Babin said in an interview with Bloomberg, describing Bulgari’s jewelry as a “safe investment.”

“How long it will last it is difficult to say, because indeed with the SWIFT measures, fully implemented, it might make it difficult if not impossible to export to Russia,” he said, referring to restrictions on Russian access to the SWIFT financial-messaging system.

Even as consumer brands from Apple Inc. to Nike Inc. and energy giants BP Plc, Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. pull out of Russia, Europe’s biggest luxury brands are, so far, trying to continue operating in the country.

— Bloomberg

2:52 p.m.

H&M pauses sales in Russia

Swedish fashion group H&M is temporarily pausing all sales in Russia, it said on Wednesday, joining a growing list of companies shunning the country since it invaded Ukraine.

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The world’s second-biggest fashion retailer said it was deeply concerned about the tragic developments in Ukraine and “stand with all the people who are suffering.”

People queue outside the Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) store on its opening day in Moscow, May 27, 2017.
People queue outside the Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) store on its opening day in Moscow, May 27, 2017. Photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters files

Russia was H&M’s sixth biggest market with four per cent of group sales in the fourth quarter of 2021. While it has been reducing the number of physical stores in many markets, it has been increasing store count in Russia.

“H&M Group has decided to temporarily pause all sales in Russia,” the company, whose biggest rival is Inditex, said in a statement.

— Reuters

1:46 p.m.

Abramovich is selling Chelsea after almost 20 years in ‘club’s best interest’

Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich applauds his team. Abramovich said Wednesday he has decided to sell Chelsea Football Club and promised to donate money from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine.
Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich applauds his team. Abramovich said Wednesday he has decided to sell Chelsea Football Club and promised to donate money from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine. Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Russian businessman Roman Abramovich has decided to sell Chelsea Football Club, 19 years after buying the London side, and promised to donate money from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine.

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“I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart,” Abramovich said in statement published by the reigning European and world soccer champions on their website.

“In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club’s sponsors and partners.”

Abramovich said he would not ask for loans he has made to the club — reported to total 1.5 billion pounds (US$2.0 billion) — to be repaid to him and the sale would not be fast-tracked.

He said he had told his aides to set up a charitable foundation which would receive all net proceeds from the sale.

“The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine,” Abramovich said in the statement.

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“This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.”

— Reuters

1:01 p.m.

Russians pile into crypto because it’s more stable than the ruble

The surge of Russians buying cryptocurrencies amid a tumbling ruble has one analyst calling it a moment of crypto returning to its roots.

“Russians buying crypto actually represents a use case of the sort for which crypto was intended,” said George Monaghan, thematic analyst at analytics firm GlobalData, in a report. “Crypto, being decentralized, is less vulnerable to government regulations than FIAT currencies. Sanctions have excluded some Russian banks from SWIFT and Mastercard and VISA have frozen their operations in Russia, but it seems that Russians can still make crypto transactions.”

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Monaghan added that while the Russian government refused to open the Moscow exchange, Russians are still able to trade in crypto assets. The Russian government won’t be able to move day-to-day operations into crypto, but it has given citizens a way to preserve some of their wealth, Monaghan noted.

“This activity reminds us what crypto was really meant to be, before the hype and the memecoins and the gains: decentralized and unregulated,” he wrote.

GlobalData made it clear that Russians were not piling into the space because it looked promising or had strong prospects for growth, but because it was more stable compared to the ruble.

The amount traded from the rouble into cryptocurrencies have doubled since the beginning of the Russian invasion into the Ukraine and reached US$60 million a day on Monday, according to data from crypto analytics firm Chainalysis.

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— Stephanie Hughes

11:45 a.m.

A broad range of companies, from energy giant BP Plc to Apple Inc. to the world’s largest banks are pulling up stakes and cutting ties with Russia after its attack on Ukraine, leaving billions of dollars in business behind.

The departures come as Western countries, including Canada, the U.S. and much of Europe, have imposed harsh sanctions on Russia in a bid to constrict its economy and compel it to end the invasion.

But at least one Canadian company, Toronto-headquartered Kinross Gold Corp., which operates a high-grade underground mine in the far east of Russia, has abstained from criticizing Russia and indicated it plans to continue operating there as long as possible.

Gold recently pierced a one-year high, reaching US$1,930 per ounce, up eight per cent in the past 30 days, a surge most attribute to the increase in geopolitical tensions as a result of the invasion.

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Kinross chief executive J. Paul Rollinson told analysts during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call on Feb. 18, as Russian troops were gathering on the border of Ukraine but had not yet invaded, that the company’s Kupol mine had all the supplies and workforce it needs to continue operating.

“All I can say is we’ve operated there successfully for many years with strong support from the Russian government,” Rollinson said, adding. “We’re good in our communities. We pay our taxes. And we think we’re quite welcome there, and it’s been a great place for us.”

Keep reading the story from the Financial Post’s Gabriel Friedman.

10:15 a.m.

The Bank of Canada raised interest rates by 25 basis points to 0.50 per cent this morning, citing high inflation as one of the main factors behind its decision.

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Prices were already rising, but the conflict in Ukraine is adding to inflationary pressures, policy makers said in today’s statement. The bank now expects inflation rates, now at 5.1 per cent, to stay higher for longer.

“Price increases have become more pervasive, and measures of core inflation have all risen. Poor harvests and higher transportation costs have pushed up food prices. The invasion of Ukraine is putting further upward pressure on prices for both energy and food-related commodities. All told, inflation is now expected to be higher in the near term than projected in January,” the statement said.

The bank reiterated its commitment to using its policy tools to bring the inflation rate back down to its 2 per cent target.

— Victoria Wells

9:48 a.m.

Hockey equipment company Canada Cycle and Motor Company Limited (CCM) will drop Alex Ovechkin and other Russian hockey players in their global marketing campaigns.

“Although Mr. Ovechkin is not responsible for the Russian government’s actions, we took the decision to not use him (or any Russian player) on any global CCM communication at this point,” CCM chief executive Marrouane Nabih wrote to TSN in an email.

In the past, Ovechkin has been a vocal supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin. In 2017, he started a social movement called “PutinTeam.”

— Marisa Coulton

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9:45 a.m.

The list of companies exiting or refusing to do business with Russia grows.

Boeing has suspended technical support for Russian airlines and Apple Inc has stopped selling iPhones and other products in Russia.

U.S. energy firm Exxon Mobil said it would exit Russia

9:36 a.m.

North American stocks open higher after a rough week so far as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled the central bank would start raising rates this month despite uncertainties stemming from the Ukraine crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 84.56 points, or 0.25 per cent, at the open to 33,379.51.
The S&P 500 opened higher by 16.30 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 4,322.56, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 65.07 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 13,597.53 at the opening bell.

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The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 117.07 points, or 0.56 per cent, at 21,121.58.

8:26 a.m.

Whoa, oil prices are getting crazy.

Brent crude spiked higher this morning touching $113.02 – its highest since 2014 — and U.S. crude came close to passing its 2013 peak as traders scrambled to find alternatives to Russian oil in an already tight market.

But according to some economists, it’s possible we ain’t seen nothing yet.

If the conflict escalates and Russian exports are choked off altogether, oil could rise to a range of US$120 to US$140, says Capital Economics.

Capital also had a few thoughts on gold, which it expects will climb higher in coming weeks and months because of safe-haven demand. It forecasts that gold will remain firmly above US$2,000 an ounce in the first half of this year, but if there is an escalation in the conflict the yellow metal could soar to US$2,500.

Gold was down this morning, pressured by a higher U.S. dollar and yields, at US$1,924.00 per ounce.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Bloomberg

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Concordia invests $2M in the Circular Economy Fund – Concordia University News

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The Concordia University Foundation and the Greater Montreal Climate Fund (GMCF) are investing $2 million and $500,000, respectively, in the Circular Economy Fund (CE Fund).

The commitments total more than $18M, bringing the EC Fund closer to its objective of $25M, to which Fondaction is also adding $5M in co-investment.

Unique in Canada, the EC Fund was launched in March 2021 by Fondaction, in partnership with the City of Montreal and RECYC-QUÉBEC. The fund aims to accelerate ecological transition through the circular economy, notably by reducing the production of residual materials and supporting their recovery, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It encourages innovation and the exchange of solutions between startups and the largest Quebec companies.

Partnerships anchored in the mission of the Circular Economy Fund

Marc Gauthier, treasurer and chief investment officer of Concordia, says this investment with the GMCF and Fondaction in the Circular Economy Fund represents a second important co-investment for the sustainable innovation sector.

“Earlier this year, we joined Fondaction in the Urapi Sustainable Soil Management Fund. It is with great pleasure that the Concordia University Foundation is now co-investing in the Circular Economy Fund,” he says.

“Like Urapi, this Fund is perfectly aligned with our goals for sustainable investments and investments with social and environmental impact.”

Marie-Claude Bourgie, executive director of the GMCF, says investing in the Circular Economy Fund allows the Greater Montreal Climate Fund to carry out a mission that is close to its heart: to accelerate the implementation of climate solutions in the metropolitan region.

“It is by supporting entrepreneurs dedicated to meeting the challenge of putting raw materials back into circulation that we can rethink the production chain and thus reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

With this second closing, Fondaction will be able to help more companies that want to optimize the use and recovery of resources as well as the reduction of residual materials and greenhouse gas emissions, explains Marc-André Binette, assistant chief investment officer at the investment fund.

“We are pleased to have wise financial partners who have made the circular economy a major pillar in the fight against climate change,” he adds.

Getting involved in the city’s ecological transition

Since the EC Fund was deployed, four companies (Still Good, Groupe Onym, Ferme Tournevent and CarbiCrete) have received an investment from the Fund to increase their production, open a new plant, increase research and development and test an innovative product.

These companies operate in different sectors, such as agri-food, recycling, resource recovery and eco-construction, but their missions are all part of the circular economy concept.

According to the Pôle québécois de concertation sur l’économie circulaire, this economy is closely linked to practices that optimize the use of natural resources in order to reduce the environmental footprint and contribute to the well-being of the population.

By creating the EC Fund, Fondaction and its partners are investing for the future and these two new investors open up new investment opportunities for the EC Fund and fuel the development of responsible and sustainable innovations.


Find out more about the
Circular Economy Fund (CE Fund).

 

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Oakville's economy 'remains strong,' says Economic Development Report | inHalton – insauga.com

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Published May 26, 2022 at 4:58 pm

The growth of Oakville companies like Geotab were highlighted in the Town of Oakville’s 2021 Economic Development Report. FACEBOOK PHOTO

The attraction of new companies like Amazon and growth at existing ones like Geotab resulted in some 1,000 new jobs, highlight the Town of Oakville’s 2021 Economic Development Report.

Released at the Town Council meeting on Wednesday night, the annual report provides an overview of the town’s economic activity in 2021, highlighting local economic growth, recovery, and resiliency.

“Oakville’s economy remains strong because our livability and our pandemic recovery plan continues to attract new investments that are essential to supporting the pandemic recovery, job creation, and the long-term health of our local economy,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.

“The town remains committed to helping local businesses recover from the pandemic and remain resilient because together, we can help ensure business and people continue to thrive in our community.”

Some key highlights from the report include:

  • Oakville welcomed several new companies across various industries, including Wiseacre Studios, Amazon and NVA Canada, and saw growth at existing companies, including Geotab, Terrestrial Energy, and SteriMax, resulting in approximately 1,000 new jobs.
  • When compared to 17 surrounding municipalities Oakville’s commercial market remains highly competitive, ranking within the top five in the cost comparison for taxes and development charges.
  • Oakville’s industrial market is comparatively less competitive in the areas of land sale values and taxes, ranking more costly than half of the municipalities reviewed. Cost competitiveness for industrial development charges has improved, and industrial market demand overall remains high.
  • The Town’s Economic Development department continued to focus efforts on supporting pandemic recovery through its participation on the Recovery and Resiliency Committee, patio program, workplace self-screening rapid antigen testing program, and Digital Main Street.
  • In an effort to address the rise in office vacancy rates in Oakville, which reached a peak at 20.7 per cent in the third quarter of last year, the town developed the Where Living Works campaign, which promoted Oakville’s livability as a key differentiator for investment. While office vacancy rates rose across Ontario last year, the market remains optimistic with numbers declining in the fourth quarter. Many companies have also reintroduced return to office plans, with a focus on the hybrid work model.
  • For the third year in a row, Site Selection Magazine, an international business publication covering corporate real estate and economic development, listed the Town of Oakville in the top 20 of Canada’s Best Locations to invest based on significant investment and facility expansions at existing companies as well as new company arrivals.

For more details, review the 2021 Economic Development Annual Report or visit the Invest Oakville website.


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Long COVID fuelling brain health crisis disrupting workforce, economy – Financial Post

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More than one million Canadians, or about five per cent of the Canadian labour force, could be affected

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The effects of long COVID — where symptoms of the COVID-19 virus persist beyond four weeks from initial infection — are disrupting our health, our labour force and our economy.

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An estimated 10 to 30 per cent of COVID-19 survivors are currently experiencing a range of long COVID symptoms, which means that more than one million Canadians, or about five per cent of the Canadian labour force, could be affected.

Though long COVID affects the entire body, many of the most persistent symptoms are linked to brain health. These symptoms include headaches, “brain fog,” chronic fatigue, impaired memory or concentration, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Such symptoms directly limit a person’s ability to work or be productive at their former, pre-pandemic levels. That has implications for the economy. Knowledge-based economies rely on optimal “brain capital” for economic prosperity, and so without brain health, we compromise our wealth.

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What’s more, long COVID is striking people in their prime working years. According to a survey conducted in May 2021 by Viral Neuro Exploration (VINEx), the COVID Long Haulers Support Group Canada and Neurological Health Charities Canada, nearly 60 per cent of the more than 1,000 long haulers polled are between the ages of 40 and 59. Their top symptoms include fatigue and “brain fog,” which have impacted their work. Nearly 70 per cent of long-haulers said they were forced to take a leave from their jobs and more than half had to reduce their hours. Over one quarter had to go on disability, but nearly 44 per cent were unable to access disability insurance.

Long COVID brain health symptoms have persisted, and so have its impacts. In a follow-up survey and report conducted this spring, more than 80 per cent of respondents said the virus has negatively or very negatively affected their brain health. More than 70 per cent had to take a leave from work, which in some cases stretched beyond a year. Still others had to leave the workforce altogether. Troublingly, more than 30 per cent of survey respondents felt they weren’t believed when initially describing their symptoms to a health-care professional.

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Women appear to be bearing the brunt of long COVID symptoms; more than 87 per cent of the survey respondents identify as female. This is consistent with other studies showing women are disproportionately affected by as much as a four-to-one ratio to men, impacting women’s labour participation rate and further aggravating gender inequalities.

The brain health crisis in Canada isn’t new. Even before COVID-19, one in three people were estimated to have been directly impacted by a disease, disorder or injury of the brain, with indirect costs to families, the workplace, economy and society. But the pandemic, which led to shutdowns that caused social isolation and anxiety about an uncertain future, along with the virus itself and its lasting effects on long-haulers, only increased the prevalence of neurological and psychiatric disorders, putting additional stress on overall brain health.

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We are now facing a global mental health crisis. In the United States, “an overwhelming majority of Americans believe the U.S. is in the grips of a full-blown mental health crisis,” according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll. President Joe Biden also announced a strategy to address national mental health issues as part of his first state of the union address. In Canada, the federal government created a cabinet position dedicated to mental health. The minister of mental health and addiction has a mandate to create a comprehensive, evidence-based plan “to address the crisis in mental health,” and establish a Canada Mental Health Transfer to help expand the delivery of mental health services, including for prevention and treatment.

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These investments in mental health are to be lauded, as is the the greater awareness of long COVID. But they fall short of what is needed for people living with persistent COVID symptoms, mental health impacts from the pandemic, and for those whose brain health is otherwise not optimal.

Lost productivity and increased insurance payouts have resulted from this accelerated brain health crisis. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health estimates poor mental health costs the Canadian economy more than $50 billion annually, of which more than $6 billion is due to lost productivity. And according to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association’s latest data, Canadian insurers paid out $420 million in psychology claims in 2020, a staggering 24 per cent increase from 2019.

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Much of the discussion about the “new normal” at the workplace has focused on how we will work. But we need to pay more attention to ensuring people are able to fully participate in the labour market. We are already facing labour shortages thanks to a shift in demographics and as workers choose to retire earlier or leave the workforce because of the pandemic.

  1. Policy-makers are starting to suspect long COVID is a factor behind the labour shortages seen in the U.S. and U.K., where many older workers are looking to work fewer hours or have left the workforce completely.

    Long COVID: The invisible public health crisis fuelling labour shortages

  2. COVID-19’s scale means prolonged complications and recoveries have the potential to become a national and global crisis that could significantly impact our available workforce, long into the future.

    Why the fight against COVID-19 won’t end with a high vaccination rate

  3. None

    Don’t let the two-dose summer fool you — there is a long battle ahead against COVID-19

There is a way forward: we need to treat the post-pandemic brain health crisis with the same urgency as the pandemic crisis. The development and deployment of vaccines bridged existing technology and research from basic to clinical trials; showed us the power and potential of global collaboration across disciplines, institutions, sectors, and countries; and brought together business and science leadership. We can apply these lessons to both research and care, beginning with long COVID. Governments and funders must move away from traditional silos, and think differently about how these may link to a bigger story about brain health. Here’s what that looks like:

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  1. We need to continue the work to develop a concise definition of long COVID and develop a single test for diagnosing long COVID. This will allow us to better understand the size and impact of the problem;
  2. We need to bring attention to the stories of people with lived experience and counter the stigma being faced by those who are not believed because the illness is not well-defined and not always properly diagnosed. Beyond the mental health stress, this has an impact on the ability to access unemployment benefits and disability insurance;
  3. We need to establish more multidisciplinary care clinics to be able to treat the different dimensions of long COVID;
  4. We need to increase funding for multidisciplinary research and longitudinal studies, in order to advance our understanding of what causes long COVID, how to treat it, and the potential long-term impacts, which may include contributing to the development of neurodegenerative diseases in the future. This is not just up to governments. Businesses and the private sector have a role to play and a stake in funding such research; and
  5. Finally, from a workplace perspective, employers need to provide more flexibility and a gradual return to work for those ready to come back.

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We cannot leave long-haulers behind and let long COVID mine the full potential of up to a million Canadians who may be in their prime working years. Brain health is our most precious asset; the health of our workplaces and of our labour force is a function of our brain health. Acting now to ensure it remains optimal will yield higher productivity, and a more dynamic, creative and resilient workforce.

— Inez Jabalpurwala is global director of VINEx.

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