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Markets up as retailers rise with holiday shopping –



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.

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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What supply chain shortages look like for two Canadians –



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  1. What supply chain shortages look like for two Canadians
  2. Canadian ski resorts struggle to hire enough workers ahead of season
  3. Calls to end ‘hybrid’ classrooms in Ontario with in-person and virtual teaching
  4. A life story told in outfits: Anahid Chujunian discovers her voice one thrift find at a time
  5. Amateur astronomer in Dartmouth has an asteroid named after him
  6. View Full coverage on Google News

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FDA says kid-sized Pfizer vaccine doses appear highly effective, safe –



U.S. health regulators said late Friday that kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues, as the country weighs beginning vaccinations in youngsters.

The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of Pfizer’s data ahead of a public meeting next week to debate whether the shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11. The agency will ask a panel of outside vaccine experts to vote on that question.

In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that in almost every scenario the vaccine’s benefit for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any serious potential side effects in children. But agency reviewers stopped short of calling for Pfizer’s shot to be authorized.

The agency will put that question to its panel of independent advisers next Tuesday and weigh their advice before making its own decision.

U.S. children could begin vaccinations next month

If the FDA authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should receive them the first week of November. Children could begin vaccinations early next month — with the first youngsters in line fully protected by Christmas.

Full-strength Pfizer shots already are recommended for anyone 12 or older, but pediatricians and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem infections from the extra-contagious delta variant and help keep kids in school.

WATCH | Pfizer releases clinical trial data for COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11:

Pfizer releases clinical trial data for COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11

13 hours ago

Pfizer publicly released data from its coronavirus vaccine trial appearing to show that it’s both safe and effective for children aged five to 11. But that data is now being reviewed by regulators, and parents want to carefully weigh the risks. 2:03

The FDA review affirmed results from Pfizer posted earlier in the day showing the two-dose shot was nearly 91 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children. Researchers calculated the figure based on 16 COVID-19 cases in youngsters given dummy shots versus three cases among vaccinated children. There were no severe illnesses reported among any of the youngsters, but the vaccinated ones had much milder symptoms than their unvaccinated counterparts.

Most of the study data was collected in the U.S. during August and September, when the delta variant had become the dominant COVID-19 strain.

No new side effects

The FDA review found no new or unexpected side effects, which mostly consisted of sore arms, fever or achiness that teens experience.

However, FDA scientists noted that the study wasn’t large enough to detect extremely rare side effects, including myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation that occasionally occurs after the second dose.

The agency used statistical modelling to try to predict how many hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 the vaccine would prevent versus the number of potential heart side effects it might cause. In four scenarios of the pandemic, the vaccine clearly prevented more hospitalizations than would be expected from the heart side effect. Only when virus cases were extremely low would the vaccine cause more hospitalizations than it would prevent. But overall, regulators concluded that the vaccine’s protective benefits “would clearly outweigh” its risks.

While children run a lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, COVID-19 has killed more than 630 Americans 18 and under, according to the CDC. Nearly 6.2 million children have been infected with the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in the last six weeks as the delta variant surged, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

The Biden administration has purchased enough kid-size doses — in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from adult vaccine — for the nation’s 5- to 11-year-olds. If the vaccine is cleared, millions of doses will be promptly shipped around the country, along with kid-size needles.

More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers already have signed up to get the shots into little arms.

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Edward Rogers’ role as Blue Jays chair unchanged amid changes atop RCI –



TORONTO — Edward Rogers’ roles as chair of the Toronto Blue Jays and control person with Major League Baseball are unaffected by this week’s manoeuvrings that led to his removal as board chair of parent company Rogers Communications Inc., according to two industry sources.

Whether fallout from the power struggle atop the telecom giant, which also owns Sportsnet, might eventually reach the club is unclear. Last week, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said the team was “about a month away” from presenting its off-season plan during a final payroll meeting with ownership, and expressed confidence that its long-term strategic objectives would remain on track.

“Every indication I’ve received and every indication that we’ve been shown … leads me to believe that we will stay on plan and the payroll will continue to rise despite the fact that we’re still lagging behind a little bit in revenues due to (the pandemic),” Shapiro said.

Those comments came before news broke that John MacDonald, a member of the Rogers Board of Directors since 2012, had assumed the chairman role in place of Edward Rogers, who according to media reports had sought to oust company CEO Joe Natale.

Edward Rogers is now seeking to replace five board members.

At this point, the sources said the developments aren’t expected to impact a winter of opportunity for the Blue Jays, who are seeking to augment a club that missed the post-season by one game and are about to see top performers Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray and Steven Matz hit free agency.

Shapiro is close with Edward Rogers, who as chair is the top officer of the club. He is also the control person, a role each of the 30 MLB teams assigns to represent the interests of that ownership.

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