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The Canadian Press

Leafs get goals from unlikely sources to defeat Habs 4-2 in North Division showdown

MONTREAL — The Maple Leafs have relied on Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner for the bulk of their offence this season. Toronto’s supporting cast showed the team’s lesser lights are also capable of contributing in big moments. Justin Holl and Ilya Mikheyev scored their first goals of the campaign 42 seconds apart early in Wednesday’s third period after Travis Dermott also opened his account to tie the game 1-1 as the Leafs recovered from a rocky start to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Toronto fell behind when Josh Anderson buried the home side’s opening salvo, but rebounded with Dermott picking a corner on Carey Price, Holl blasting one upstairs, and Mikheyev bagging another off the rush. “That’s all really positive stuff for us,” said Matthews, who saw his eight-game goal streak come to an end. Those guys start feeling it, they get confidence and they start rolling. “It was a huge win.” Zach Hyman, into an empty net off an assist from Matthews that extended the star centre’s point streak to 11 games, helped set up Mikheyev’s goal before icing things for Toronto (11-2-1), which got 33 saves from Frederik Andersen. Jake Muzzin added three assists and John Tavares had two as the Leafs improved to 8-0-1 over their last nine games. Marner, meanwhile, saw his eight-game point streak come to an end. Toronto now holds a five-point lead over its Original Six rival atop the NHL and all-Canadian North Division standings after a hard-fought victory inside the Bell Centre, which would have been rocking in a normal season, but instead remains devoid of fans because of COVID-19 restrictions. “It’s massive,” Tavares said of getting contributions up and down the roster. “We’ve got guys throughout our lineup that can contribute offensively, I think there’s no doubt about that.” Tomas Tatar had the other goal for Montreal (8-3-2), which got 20 stops from Price. “We knew it was going to be a challenge,” Anderson said. “I thought we set the tempo at the start of the game and overall played pretty good. “A few bounces went their way and they capitalized.” The Canadiens have a quick turnaround with the Edmonton Oilers waiting in the wings Thursday in the second half of a back-to-back, while the Leafs will head home to prepare for Saturday’s rematch with Montreal — the third of 10 meetings between the clubs in 2021. Tied 1-1 through 40 minutes, Toronto pushed ahead at 1:50 of the third when Holl was given all day to load up and rip a slapshot by Price’s glove with the teams playing 4 on 4. “I’ve uncorked it now,” Holl said with a smile of the blast that resulted in his first goal since Feb. 27, 2020. “There’s no turning back.” The defenceman said he could see teammate William Nylander — usually a far more adept shooter — calling for the puck before deciding to give it a go himself. “As I came down I was like, ‘Oh man, Willy’s going to want this biscuit,'” Holl said. “It ended up going in, and all’s well that ends well.” Price, who watched three of Montreal’s five previous games as the Canadiens look to get the most out of their starter with a dependable backup in Jack Allen now in the fold, was beaten again at 2:32 when Mikheyev found the back of the net after Alexander Kerfoot fanned on his intial effort. The goal was the winger’s first since Dec. 27, 2020 — the same night he suffered a serious wrist laceration from a skate blade. “He must have had the most chances in the league without one yet,” Tavares said of Mikheyev’s breakthrough. “Definitely great to see him get rewarded the way he’s been playing.” Montreal made a push as the period wore on, with Tatar scoring his fourth with 3:20 left in regulation off a scramble to make it 3-2, but the Leafs and Andersen held the fort until Hyman sealed it. “We talked about having our best period of the year between the second and the third,” Tavares said. “I don’t know if it was our best, but certainly the way we came out suited ourselves, got the two-goal lead and took the game in our hands.” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said he was happy to see his team respond after a shaky first 10 minutes. “Our job as a team is to help (Andersen) out, and I thought we did that,” he said. “Defensively, we didn’t give them very much at all. “I had this as the lowest number of scoring chances we’ve given up in a game all season.” Montreal entered the marquee matchup rested following Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators, while Toronto was playing its fourth game in seven nights after sweeping the Vancouver Canucks three straight at Scotiabank Arena. The Canadiens opened the scoring 76 seconds into the first on a sequence started and finished by Anderson. The big winger dislodged the puck from Muzzin with a hit in the neutral zone before taking a pass from Jonathan Drouin and beating Andersen off the rush to score his ninth and pull even with Tyler Toffoli for the team lead. The Leafs, who weren’t good through 40 minutes Monday against Vancouver before coming alive to secure a 3-1 victory, again took a while to get going, but started to find their legs as the period wore on. Tavares, who had a great chance early in the second, was left bloodied and forced into concussion protocol later in the period when the Toronto captain’s face slammed off the ice after getting tied up with Canadiens counterpart Shea Weber. With Tavares back and playing inspired hockey, Toronto got even when Dermott, who returned to the lineup following a two-game absence because of a charley horse, wired his first beyond Price’s blocker at 15:48 with the teams also playing 4 on 4 after the Leafs hemmed the Canadiens in their zone. Asked if he knew Dermott, who scored his first goal in 411 days, and Holl had those shots in their tool belts, Keefe flashed a grin. “No doubt,” he said. “They only pull it out when it counts the most.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 10, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter The Canadian Press

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Economy

Wall Street skids on inflation fears; USD, bond yields jump

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U.S. stocks suffered the biggest slump in at least 11 weeks on Wednesday and benchmark Treasury yields jumped after data showed consumer prices in April unexpectedly rose by the highest level in nearly 12 years, prompting bets on earlier interest rate hikes.

A 0.8% jump in the U.S. consumer price index – outpacing a 0.2% forecast – boosted the U.S. dollar as expectations of rising real interest rates burnished the currency’s appeal.

The gyrations in financial markets underscored concerns among some investors that the Federal Reserve could be wrong in its prediction that inflation pressures in the United States are temporary, and that the central bank may have to raise rates sooner than it expects.

The prospect of tighter monetary policy knocked shares lower and the stock market steadily extended losses through the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 2%, the S&P 500 dropped 2.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 2.7%. [.N]

For the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite Index, Wednesday’s tumble was the biggest fall in a single day since Feb. 25, while the Dow’s decline was the sharpest in a day since Jan 29.

Richard Clarida, vice chair of the Federal Reserve, acknowledged on Wednesday that the latest inflation report was the second piece of data in a week to catch the central bank off-guard, describing it as the “biggest miss in history.”

Yet Clarida maintained the Federal Reserve’s dovish note, saying it will be “some time” before the U.S. economy is sufficiently healed for the central bank to consider pulling back its crisis-level of support.

Some investors continued to challenge the Federal Reserve’s assessment, however.

“We’ve been warning about the prospect of higher for longer inflation in the United States for many months, but even we hadn’t predicted this,” said James Knightley, chief international economist at ING Group.

“We increasingly doubt the Fed’s position that this is transitory and think they will end up hiking rates far sooner than 2024.”

Some money market investors seemed to agree. Eurodollar futures contracts expiring in December on Wednesday priced in a 25-basis-point rate hike by the end of next year, compared with 22 basis points before the inflation report.

DOLLAR GAINS

Weakness on Wall Street mirrored stock market losses in Asia, as surging commodity prices stoked inflation concerns. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had slumped 0.95% overnight, after hitting its lowest level since March 26.

European shares fared better. London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 rebounded 0.8% as buoyant corporate earnings and a better-than-expected economic growth report bolstered hopes about a sharp recovery from the pandemic-driven recession.

In the United States, the surprisingly strong inflation data lifted Treasury yields. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield jumped to 1.6952%, its biggest rise in a day since March 18, and the two-year Treasury yield also rose to stand at 0.1668%. [US/]

In keeping with expectations of rising price pressures as the U.S. economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the yield curve steepened, and the spread between two- and 10-year Treasury yields widened to 152.8 basis points.

The dollar, which could benefit from rising real interest rates, gained after wobbling briefly earlier in the day.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, rose 0.65% to 90.795.

A stronger dollar dented the euro, which slid 0.6% to $1.2070.

Higher Treasury yields and the stronger dollar dragged on non-yielding bullion. Spot gold slid 1.3% to $1,813.41 an ounce. [GOL/]

Hopes of rising demand on the back of an economic recovery pushed oil prices to eight-week highs.

U.S. crude jumped 1.2% to $66.08 a barrel, the highest close since March 11. Brent crude added 1.1% to $69.32 per barrel, a close last seen on March 5. [O/R]

In cryptocurrencies, ether fell after scaling a new record high overnight, dropping 2% to $4,096.01. The value of the second-biggest digital token has surged over 5.5 times so far this year.

(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing in New York, Tom Arnold in London and Swati Pandey in Sydney; Additional reporting by Sujata Rao in LondonEditing by Alison Williams and Matthew Lewis)

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Oil drops as India coronavirus crisis tempers rally

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CNRL

Oil prices fell on Thursday, pulling back from an eight-week high as concerns about the coronavirus crisis in India, the world’s third-biggest importer of crude, tempered a rally driven by IEA and OPEC predictions that demand is coming back strong.

Brent crude was down 32 cents, or 0.5%, at $69.00 a barrel by 0145 GMT, after gaining more than 1% on Wednesday. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was down 31 cents, or 0.5%, to $65.77 a barrel, having risen 1.2% in the previous session.

“The path for crude prices appears to be higher but until the situation improves in India, WTI will probably struggle to break above the early March high,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

Oil demand is already outstripping supply and the shortfall is expected to grow further even if Iran boosts exports, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report on Wednesday.

A day earlier, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stuck to its forecast for a strong return of world oil demand in 2021, with growth in China and the United States cancelling out the impact of the coronavirus crisis in India.

But global concern is rising over the situation in India, the world’s second-most populous country, where a variant of the coronavirus is rampaging through the countryside in the deadliest 24 hours since the pandemic began.

Medical professional are still unable to say for sure when new infections will hit a plateau and other countries are alarmed over the transmissibility of the variant that is now spreading worldwide.

Fuel shortages are getting worse in the southeastern United States six days since the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline network in the world’s biggest consumer of oil.

Colonial, which pipes more than 2.5 million barrels per day, said it is hoping to get a large portion of the network operating by the end of the week.

 

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Oil prices on track for eight-week high on demand hopes

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Oil prices rose more than 1% on Wednesday, putting the contracts on track for their highest close in almost eight weeks, as U.S. crude exports plunged and on signs of a speedy economic recovery and upbeat forecasts for energy demand.

Brent futures rose 74 cents, or 1.1%, to $69.29 a barrel by 12:05 p.m. EDT (1605 GMT), while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 75 cents, or 1.2%, to $66.03.

That puts both benchmarks on track for their highest closes since March 11. Earlier in the session, WTI on track for its highest close since Oct. 29, 2018 and Brent for its highest close since May 28, 2019.

U.S. crude exports fell last week to around 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd), their lowest since October 2018, while crude inventories declined 0.4 million barrels versus an expected 2.8 million-barrel draw, according to weekly government data. [EIA/S]

“The export (drop) is the bullish element keeping trade propped up,” Tony Headrick, energy market analyst at CHS Hedging, said, noting the crude stock “drawdown combined with the lack of exports is good sign.”

Traders noted one factor weighing on prices this afternoon was the U.S. inventory report also showed total oil products supplied fell 2.2 million bpd to 17.5 million bpd. That was their biggest weekly decline and the lowest weekly demand since January.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report that oil demand is already outstripping supply and the shortfall is expected to widen even if Iran boosts exports.

Similarly, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Tuesday stuck to a forecast for a strong recovery in world oil demand in 2021, with growth in China and the United States outweighing the impact of the coronavirus crisis in India.

Oil prices today are experiencing a lift on positive demand outlooks released by OPEC and IEA, which both came out with a similar consensus that oil demand will average 96.4 million bpd in 2021,” said Louise Dickson, oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.

Oil also found support from positive economic data. Britain’s pandemic-battered economy grew more strongly than expected in March, while U.S. consumer prices increased by the most in nearly 12 years in April as booming demand amid a reopening economy pushed against supply constraints.

India’s coronavirus death toll crossed 250,000 in the deadliest 24 hours since the pandemic began.

In the United States, fuel shortages worsened as the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, the nation’s largest fuel pipeline network, entered its sixth day and gasoline stations from Florida to Virginia ran out of supply in some cities.

Colonial, which transports more than 2.5 million bpd, said it hopes to restart a large portion of the network by the end of the week.

The gasoline crack spread – a measure of refining profit margins – was on track for its highest close since hitting a record high on April 20, 2020 when WTI futures turned negative, according to Refinitiv data.

(Additional reporting by Laura Sanicola in New York, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Shu Zhang and Sonali Paul in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Mark Heinrich)

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