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Mnuchin insists US has $800bn ‘bazooka’ after clawing back funds – Al Jazeera English



US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin faces criticism for his decision to take back Federal Reserve coronavirus funds even as cases surge and businesses close again.

United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday pushed back against criticism of his decision to de-fund several Federal Reserve coronavirus lending programmes on December 31, saying the next administration would still have an $800bn “bazooka” to quell financial market distress.

Mnuchin and another Treasury official insisted that the move would not bind the hands of the next Treasury secretary and that grants to firms, more paycheck aid to workers and unemployment compensation were better uses for the $455bn in already-borrowed funds.

Mnuchin told CNBC that the Treasury could quickly recapitalise the Fed programmes if needed, using part of the $84bn that would remain in the Treasury’s little-used Exchange Stabilization funds along with residual Fed capital.

“To the extent these need to be reactivated, we have over $800bn of capacity, so I consider that to be a pretty good bazooka,” Mnuchin said, adding that markets should be comfortable.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans have criticised the Treasury move, saying the programmes – while little-used – provided an important backstop for the economy.

“I think that backstop role may be quite important for quite some time so it’s disappointing,” Evans said on CNBC of the move. “The virus spread is increasing and so there are risks from that … it would be good to have more support coming from all directions.”

No hindrance

Mnuchin said Congress had always intended for the lending programmes to end on December 31 and sought to reassure markets that the Fed and Treasury had many tools left to support the economy.

Mnuchin denied the move was intended to hamstring the administration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on January 20.

“We’re not trying to hinder anything,” Mnuchin said, adding that his department would work closely with the incoming administration “if things get certified”.

A senior Treasury official later told Reuters that up to $600bn in cash would be available from repurposing Fed loan funds, unused money from aid for airlines and defence firms, as well as $130bn left over from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Mnuchin said he and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows would speak with congressional Republican leaders later on Friday and would redouble their efforts to pass further stimulus measures.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed Mnuchin’s decision, as did some other Republican senators.

“Congress should repurpose this money toward the kinds of urgent, important, and targeted relief measures” Republicans have been advocating, McConnell said, without mentioning any of the initiatives Democrats have been seeking in new legislation.

Unclear is whether the influx of cash would prompt McConnell to seek to reduce the size of newly appropriated coronavirus aid funds. He had previously advocated a new spending package of about $500bn, far less than the $2.1 trillion sought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats.

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3 Dividend-Growth Stocks to Stash Away for December – The Motley Fool Canada



This December, stocks definitely aren’t as cheap as they used to be. Since recovering from the March stock market crash, the TSX has gone on to set new highs. At this point, some stocks are starting to get downright pricey.

However, there are still some quality stocks out there — particularly dividend stocks. “Traditional stocks,” in many cases, remain down from their pre-COVID highs and have a lot of upside in the event of a vaccine release. These stocks can be good buys at today’s prices. The following are three such stocks to consider buying in December.

CN Railway

Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR)(NYSE:CNI) is a dividend stock that does not have the highest yield but has had phenomenal dividend growth over the years. Over the past five years, its dividend-growth rate has been 15.5% annualized. If that keeps up, then your yield on cost will double in approximately five years.

CN Railway stock has actually done well this year, despite earnings declining in the second and third quarters. This probably because investors know the company’s long-term track record of coming out of crises bigger and better than ever. By the way, CNR is already starting to show signs of recovery, with carloads and RTMs up year over year in the fourth quarter.

Royal Bank

Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY)(NYSE:RY) just released earnings and they beat analyst estimates by 20%. These were the first 2020 earnings by any Canadian bank where EPS was up year over year. Specifically, it was up 1%.

That’s not a huge gain, but considering RY is a bank, it’s a pretty good result for 2020. Banks saw their risks increase because of COVID-19 and had to raise provisions for credit losses (PCLs) as a result. In the fourth quarter, RY decreased its PCLs considerably. As a result, it was able to post positive earnings growth. The stock yields 4% and the dividend appears sustainable at today’s earnings level.

Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire (TSX:CTC.A) is one stock that got beaten down badly by COVID-19 and then recovered like a beast afterward. The stock is now up 126% from its March low, making it a play that you could have doubled your money on this year. Of course, those returns aren’t going to continue long term. CTC.A is now above its pre-COVID price levels, so it won’t continue rocketing forward like it has been.

Nevertheless, it’s a solid dividend play. Canadian Tire only yields 2.9% now, but it’s backed by an astounding 18% dividend growth rate. That dividend growth may slow in the future, but the company should keep raising its payouts to one extent or another.

Over the years, Canadian Tire has consistently rewarded patient dividend investors. Today, with its e-commerce business booming, that looks set to continue. Overall, it’s a great dividend play for December 2020.

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Fool contributor Andrew Button owns shares of Canadian National Railway. David Gardner owns shares of Canadian National Railway. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Canadian National Railway. The Motley Fool recommends Canadian National Railway.

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Insurance Bureau of Canada releases list of most stolen cars in 2020 – 680 News



Sorry, Honda owners.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada released its annual ranking of the most-stolen vehicles in Canada with high-end SUVs the target for many thieves this time around.

The IBC reports that the 2018 Honda CR-V SUV is the most stolen vehicle across the country so far, in 2020.

2020 List of Top 10 Stolen Vehicles in Canada
  • 2017 LEXUS RX350/RX450h 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2018 LEXUS RX350/RX350L/RX450h/RX450hL 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2018 FORD F150 4WD PU
  • 2019 LEXUS RX350/RX350L/RX450h/RX450hL 4DR AWD SUV
  • 2017 DODGE RAM 1500 4WD PU

Car thieves in Ontario seem to prefer Honda and Lexus models as three different types of cars and SUVs appear on the list.

According to the report, in Ontario, some were stolen for export by organized crime groups, while others have been identified in street racing rings. The IBC goes on to say that in Hamilton, Ont. high-end vehicles were being stolen and “chopped” for parts that thieves sold on the black market.

“Thieves have many motives. This year’s top 10 list confirms some key trends in auto theft that we are now seeing. Regardless of how a vehicle is stolen, auto theft is a serious threat to public safety and continues to cost all Canadians,” said Bryan Gast, National Director, Investigative Services, IBC.

The IBC said electronic auto theft is on the rise in Canada as more vehicles are equipped with advanced technology, such as keyless entry remotes.

“Many high-end SUVs continue to be stolen for export,” the IBC added.

Auto thefts cost Canadians up to $1 billion each year.

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'Brought me to my knees': Ford reveals why he was forced to cancel appearance at press conference last-minute – CTV Toronto



Ontario Premier Doug Ford has revealed why he was forced to cancel his appearance at his daily press conference last-minute yesterday.

Ford’s office sent a notice less than an hour before his scheduled appearance on Tuesday saying he would be unavailable because of a “non-COVID-related, non-urgent, medical appointment.”

Ford told reporters on Wednesday he “zapped his back out” and was unable to attend because of the pain.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever had back pain but I’ll tell you that brought me to my knees yesterday,” Ford said. “The only thing I’m disappointed about is it was my first press conference I’ve missed since the beginning, so I apologize for that.”

While it was actually the second press conference Ford was forced to miss last minute, his government has been making daily announcements since early on in the pandemic.  

Ford has made himself available to the media the past 188 days of 190 days straight, his office told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday.

The only other time Ford skipped a press conference was when he opted to get a COVID-19 test after Education Minister Stephen Lecce came in contact with someone who tested positive for the disease.

“I just want to give a shout out and thank people for their messages,” Ford said. “I’m healthy as a horse right now. Well, not really healthy, I probably look like a horse but not as healthy as one.”

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