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Markets up as retailers rise with holiday shopping – CBC.ca

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Retailers and technology companies drove modest gains for stocks on Wall Street Thursday, extending the market’s record-setting run.

Technology stocks accounted for a big slice of the gains, which helped to briefly push the Nasdaq composite above the 9,000 mark for the first time.

Financial stocks rose along with bond yields, while Amazon and other retailers climbed after data showed a last-minute surge in online shopping helped holiday sales.

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Energy stocks rose as crude oil prices headed higher. Health care and industrial stocks lagged the market.

Trading was muted as U.S. markets reopened after the Christmas holiday.

Canada’s main stock market, the TSX, will reopen December 27.

The benchmark S&P 500 index has finished with a weekly gain in 10 out of the past 11 weeks and is headed for its biggest annual gain since 2013 at 29 per cent.

Trade talk optimism lends boost

Rising optimism around a “Phase 1” trade deal announced earlier this month between the United States and China helped put investors in a buying mood in recent weeks. Fears about a possible recession have also faded since the summer after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times, and the central bank appears set to keep them low for a long time.

Still, as traders turn their attention to 2020, fears about the outlook for the global economy remain, as do concerns over unresolved trade issues between Washington and Beijing. Next year also has the added complication of the U.S. presidential election.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5 per cent. The index last hit a record high on Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 62 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 28,621. The Nasdaq composite added 0.8 per cent, extending its winning streak to 11 days.

The indexes are coming off a mixed finish in shortened, pre-Christmas trading on Tuesday.

People carry shopping bags while crossing a street in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 29. Amazon and other retailers rose after data showed a last-minute surge in online shopping helped holiday sales. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

Retail rally

 A report from Mastercard SpendingPulse showed holiday retail sales rose 3.4 per cent, with online shopping rising 18.8 per cent.

Amazon was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing 4.45 per cent. Macy’s rose 2.61 per cent and Nordstrom added 1.81 per cent.

Technology stocks continued to add to their blockbuster gains Thursday. The sector is on pace to end the year with a 48 per cent gain, well above the other 10 sectors in the S&P 500. Apple was up 1.98 per cent and Western Digital rose 0.92 per cent.

Citigroup led the gainers in the financial sector, climbing 1.58 per cent. Banks got a boost as the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.92 per cent from 1.90 per cent late Tuesday.

The yield is a benchmark for the interest rates that lenders charge on mortgages and other consumer loans. Higher yields make those loans are more profitable for banks.

The final five

The last five days of December and the first two in the new year have historically been a positive period for the market.

Stocks have have brought an average gain of 1.3 per cent over that stretch since 1950, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 54 cents to $61.65 per barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, picked up 45 cents to $66.61 per barrel.

The rise in oil prices helped lift energy sector stocks. Occidental Petroleum ended the day at $40.15, up 0.65 per cent.

Markets in Europe, Hong Kong and Australia remained closed. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index advanced 0.6 per cent to 23,924.92, while the Kospi in South Korea gained 0.4 per cent to 2,197.93. India’s Sensex lost 0.3 per cent to 41,339.87. In Southeast Asia, benchmarks were mixed, while Taiwan was flat.

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B.C. cyberattack: 1.5 billion ‘unauthorized access attempts’ daily

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Careful attention to government statements and legislation is required to get a handle on the level of risk British Columbians’ information is under, as investigators probe multiple breaches under a continued barrage of attacks.

Government sources have confirmed to CTV News that various government ministries and agencies, along with their associated websites, networks, and servers, face approximately 1.5 billion “unauthorized access” or hacking attempts daily. That represents an increase over the last few years, and explains why the province adds millions of dollars per year to its cybersecurity budget.

Public Safety Minister, Mike Farnworth, sought to reassure the public that “there’s no evidence at this point that any sensitive personal information was accessed” and was adamant that no ransom demands have been made yet. He confirmed police and federal agencies are involved.

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But Wednesday’s late-afternoon statement from the premier’s office acknowledging the provincial IT infrastructure had been compromised, a week after CTV News was first to report public employees began receiving urgent bulletins to immediately change their passwords, includes important clues. 

It notes “sophisticated cybersecurity incidents,” plural and that government has notified the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The OIPC declined our interview request and referred us to provincial legislation requiring public bodies to notify his office when there are privacy breaches that “could reasonably be expected to result in significant harm” to physical well-being, reputation, finances, employment, or property.

While Opposition Leader, Kevin Falcon, blasted the government for withholding notification of the attack for at least a week, and doing so an hour before a highly-anticipated Canucks playoff game, one expert is siding with Farnworth’s insistence that delay was necessary.

University of British Columbia associate professor, Thomas Pasquier, specializes in cybersecurity investigations and agrees with government technology experts and third-party advisors who prioritized securing the networks and finding where the breaches were successful.

“It’s important to understand the source and understand what has been done after the initial compromise and how it propagated,” he said. “It could be multiple things, including a phishing attack or a misconfigured database and an attacker got access.”

The federal Communications Security Establishment, which oversees the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, confirms: “we are working with officials in British Columbia to support their efforts to mitigate the incident” but wouldn’t provide further details. In their email statement they emphasized “cyber threats remain a persistent threat to Canadian organizations, as well as critical infrastructure owners and operators.”

Pasquier urged the government to provide more transparency, but also speculated “the attack may be still ongoing and the investigation is not clear, potentially, about the exact source and the exact extent of the compromise.”

 

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Canfor shuttering sawmill and pulp line production in B.C.

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Canfor Corp. (TSX:CFP) will permanently shutter a sawmill in Bear Lake, B.C., indefinitely curtail one production line at a pulp mill, and suspend a planned investment to revitalize its shuttered sawmill in Houston, B.C.

Canfor blamed “persistent shortage of economically available timber and challenging operating conditions in northern British Columbia” for the closure decisions.

The closure plans include permanently shutting down its Polar sawmill in Bear Lake, north of Prince George. That closure alone will affect 180 employees.

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Canfor Pulp Products Inc. (TSX:CFX) simultaneously announced it will indefinitely curtail one production line at its Northwood facility in Prince George. The curtailment of that production line is expected to affect 220 works.

Canfor also announced that a previously announced plan to invest in the revitalization of its Houston, B.C. mill, which it previously shut down, has been shelved.

Last year, Canfor announced it was shutting down its Houston sawmill, but said planned to redevelop the mill. That announcement came after the company announced it would permanently shut down its pulp mill in Prince George.

But Canfor said Thursday it is shelving the Houston mill redevelopment. The company blamed provincial policies for a shrinking timber supply.

“The ability to reliably access enough economic timber to run our manufacturing facilities is critical for our business,” Canfor president Don Kayne said in a press release.

“Unfortunately, while our province has a sufficient supply of timber available for harvest as confirmed by the Allowable Annual Cut set by BC’s Chief Forester, the actual harvest level has declined dramatically in recent years.

“In 2023 the actual harvest was 42 percent lower than the allowable cut, a level not seen since the 1960s. While this decline is partly the result of natural disturbances – beetle infestations and wildfire particularly – it is also the result of the cumulative impact of policy changes and increased regulatory complexity.

“These choices and changes have hampered our ability to consistently access enough economic fibre to support our manufacturing facilities and forced the closure or curtailment of many forest sector operations, including our Polar sawmill.”

Canfor Pulp CEO Kevin Edgson likewise said a lack of fibre was to blame for the decision to shut down one production line at its Northwood pulp mill in Prince George.

“The persistent shortage of economic fibre, particularly in the Prince George region, has led to the closure or curtailment of a number of sawmills, which in turn has dramatically reduced the volume of chips available to meet the needs of our pulp operations,” he said in a press release.

“Despite exhaustive efforts, including expanding well beyond our traditional operating region, there is simply not enough residual fibre to supply the current production capacity of all our operations.”

Canfor Pulp operates two pulp production lines at its Northwood mill in Prince George and one production line at its nearby Intercon facility. The company said it will continue to operate both lines at Northwood over the next few weeks, then wind down operations to a single production line at the beginning of the third quarter.

 

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TD Bank caught up in drug money-laundering scheme – The Globe and Mail

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For the best listening experience and to never miss an episode, subscribe to The Decibel on your favourite podcast app or platform: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pocket Casts and Youtube.


TD Bank TD-T has been plagued by concerns about its anti-money-laundering capabilities for over a year. In March, 2023, they tried to acquire the U.S.-based bank First Horizon Corp. Regulatory issues delayed the acquisition, and in May, 2023, the deal fell through.

The extent of TD’s anti-money-laundering issues weren’t clear until now, when it’s revealed that TD is involved in a U.S. investigation of a US$653-million money-laundering and drug-trafficking operation. Tim Kiladze, financial reporter and columnist for the Globe, is on the show to talk about TD’s alleged lack of oversight and what this means for the bank – and its customers – going forward.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Email us at thedecibel@globeandmail.com

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