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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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RBC warns house price correction could be deepest in decades | CTV News – CTV News Toronto



A housing correction, which has already led to four consecutive months of price declines in the previously overheated Greater Toronto Area market, could end up becoming “one of the deepest of the past half a century,” a new report from RBC warns.

New data released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) last week revealed that the average benchmark price for a home in the GTA fell six per cent month-over-month in July to $1,074,754.

Sales were also down a staggering 47 per cent from July, 2021.

In a report published on Aug. 4, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue said recent data from real estate boards underlines that higher interest rates are beginning to take a “huge toll” on the market.

Hogue said that with further hikes to come, prices will likely continue to slide in the coming months.

That prediction, it should be noted, goes against a report from Royal LePage last month which painted a rosier forecast for sellers in which values would more or less holding for the rest of the year following some declines in the second quarter.

“Our expectations for further hikes by the Bank of Canada—another 75 basis points to go in the overnight rate by the fall— will keep chilling the market in the months ahead,” Hogue said. “We expect the downturn to intensify and spread further as buyers take a wait-and-see approach while ascertaining the impact of higher lending rates. Canada’s least affordable markets Vancouver and Toronto, and their surrounding regions, are most at risk in light of their excessively stretched affordability and outsized price gains during the pandemic.”

The Bank of Canada has hiked the overnight lending rate by 225 basis points since March and has warned that further hikes will be necessary given that inflation remains at a near 40-year high.

In his report, Hogue pointed out that the housing correction “now runs far and wide across Canada” but he said that it is particularly pronounced in the costlier markets of Toronto and Vancouver.

In fact, Hogue said that housing resale activity in Toronto is at its slowest pace in 13 years, outside of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stockpile of available homes is also up 58 per cent from a year ago, he noted.

“With more options to choose from and higher interest rates shrinking their purchasing budgets, buyers are able to extract meaningful price concessions from sellers,” he said, pointing out that the average price of a home in the GTA is down 13 per cent from March. “We expect buyers to remain on the defensive in the months ahead as they deal with rising interest rates and poor affordability.”

While Hogue did say that condos in the City of Toronto are likely to remain “relatively more resilient” he said that prices elsewhere will continue to fall for the time being, especially in the 905 belt “where property values soared during the pandemic.”

The July data from TRREB suggested that the average price of a home in the GTA was still up one per cent from July, 2021.

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Commuters face GO transit cancellations, possible strike – CityNews



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Canada Revenue Agency plans email blitz to get Canadians to cash outstanding cheques worth $1.4-billion – The Globe and Mail



The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is planning a massive e-mail notification campaign to reach Canadians across the country who have uncashed cheques worth a net $1.4-billion.

The e-mail notifications will target recipients of the Canada child benefit and related provincial and territorial programs, as well as recipients of the GST/HST credits and the Alberta Energy Tax Refund.

The CRA said it plans to send approximately 25,000 e-mails in August, another 25,000 in November and a further 25,000 e-mails by May, 2023.

However, even without receiving an e-mail notification, the agency said a taxpayer can check if they have a cheque by logging into My Account, a secure portal on its website to check if they have an uncashed cheque over a period of six months. It added that representatives can also view uncashed cheques of their clients.

Each year, the CRA said it issues millions of payments to Canadian taxpayers in the form of refund benefits. These payments are issued by either direct deposit or by cheque.

“Over time, payments can remain uncashed for various reasons, such as the taxpayer misplacing the cheque or even a change of address which did not allow for delivery,” the agency said in a statement.

The CRA said since the e-mail notification initiative was first launched in February, 2020, about two million uncashed cheques valued at $802-million were redeemed by May 31, 2022.

The average amount per uncashed cheque is $158 with some of them dating as far back as 1998, the agency said.

As of May, 2022, there were an estimated 8.9 million uncashed cheques with the CRA. In May, 2019, about five million Canadians had an estimated 7.6 million uncashed cheques.

“As government cheques never expire or stale date, the CRA cannot void the original cheque and re-issue a new one unless requested by the taxpayer,” the statement read. “These upcoming e-notifications are to encourage taxpayers to cash any cheques they have in their possession.”

The agency said taxpayers can register for the direct deposit option on its website to receive payments directly into their bank accounts.

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