Canadian stocks fell despite fresh initiatives announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve to support the U.S. economy as investors await progress on a stimulus package from Congress.
The S&P/TSX Composite fell as much 2.7 per cent at the open in Toronto, swinging between losses and gains, signaling mounting concern on the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis. Investors are beginning another dramatic week digesting slashed economic forecasts as the COVID-19 death toll climbs with cities from from New York to Los Angeles all but shut down and cases rise rapidly outside Asia.
In Canada, more companies are suspending operations, laying off workers and withdrawing earnings forecasts and the virus outbreak. Gildan Activewear Inc. pulled its first quarter and full year forecasts due to heightened uncertainty relating to the impacts of COVID-19. Over the weekend, Husky Energy Inc. suspended its West White Rose Project and Lundin Gold Inc. temporarily halted work at the Fruta del Norte gold mine.
Traders have shrugged off efforts by central banks to stem the economic fallout. The Fed on Monday announced that it will buy an unlimited amount of bonds to keep borrowing costs low and setting up programs to ensure credit flows to corporations and state and local governments. While that sent equity futures soaring earlier Monday, markets opened with stocks in the red.
However, the government’s action to stem the bleeding shouldn’t be taken lightly, Bloomberg Intelligence strategists Gina Martin Adams and Michael Casper wrote. “Contrary to narratives that policymakers can’t aid risk-asset prices given the unique nature of the Covid-19 crisis, their faster response than in prior crises should be heeded,” they said. The actions by the central banks around the world, may coincide with a “risk-sentiment bottom,” similar to 2008 financial crisis, the strategists wrote.
Meanwhile, Canadian consumer confidence went into a tailspin as half a million Canadians applied for unemployment benefits. The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index, based on telephone surveys of households, recorded its biggest one-week drop ever and reached the lowest level since 2013, when weekly tracking began.
To add to the pain, the technical outlook for the S&P/TSX Composite doesn’t look very promising, at least in the short-term, according to Canaccord Genuity analyst Javed Mirza. The charts for both S&P 500 and TSX suggest “another leg lower,” he said, adding that “we were struck not only by how much technical damage had been done, but that the charts suggested further downside.”
There may be a silver lining. “The good news is that given the extreme technical damage done over the last month, any further decline should be the prelude to equities forming a major price low,” Mirza said. And if if the markets decide to shift to a bullish tone, Mirza thinks it could support “a sharp snapback V shaped rally, similar to the rally off the December 2018 lows.”
Air Canada to reduce workforce by 16,500 as it parks planes during COVID-19 – Financial Post
Air Canada will send home 15,200 unionized employees and 1,300 managers due to the “unpredictable extent and duration” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada’s largest airline announced Monday it will place the unionized members on off-duty status and furlough the managers as it reduces capacity by about 85 to 90 per cent from April through June. It intends for the cuts, which will come into effect on or about April 3, to be temporary.
“To furlough such a large proportion of our employees is an extremely painful decision but one we are required to take given our dramatically smaller operations for the next while,” Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.
“I understand and regret the impact this will have upon our employees and their families.”
Rovinescu and chief financial officer Michael Rousseau will forgo 100 per cent of their salaries, while other senior executives will take a 25 to 50 per cent pay cut. Board members agreed to a 25 per cent pay cut. Other managers’ salaries will be reduced by 10 per cent.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government will subsidize 75 per cent of wages for companies that lose 30 per cent of their revenue during the shutdown. It’s not yet clear how Air Canada could benefit from this, but the airline said it will assess how the subsidy could affect its workforce reduction plans.
Trudeau also acknowledged the airline industry has been “extremely hard hit” by the pandemic and said the government will do more to help the industry, but did not reveal any details.
The prime minister and senior government officials have been working with Canada’s major passenger airlines as they seek help during the crisis. Ottawa has already agreed to provide Toronto-based Porter Airlines with $135 million in commercial financing, but has yet to reveal a comprehensive package for other airlines including Air Canada, WestJet Airlines Ltd., Transat A.T. and Sunwing.
To help deal with plummeting revenue, Air Canada is also looking to cut $500 million in costs and capital spending. It will draw down about $1 billion in operating lines of credit for additional liquidity and suspended its share buyback program on March 2.
Air Canada is working with Ottawa to repatriate Canadians abroad. It will continue to operate a select number of flights after April 1, pending further government restrictions, as well as operating cargo-only flights to ensure movement of goods, such as medical supplies.
Air Canada employed about 33,000 people at the end of 2019, according to financial statements.
Air Canada employs about 4,400 pilots. It’s not clear how many pilots will be affected by the decision, but last week the Air Canada Pilots Association reached a deal with the airline to reduce pilot pay, allow pilots to retire earlier and plan for a maximum of 600 redundancies in the coming months.
Pilots placed on furlough will continue to accrue seniority and service and will be recalled in order of seniority, the ACPA said in a statement.
The International Air Transport Association predicts airlines around the world will lose US$252 billion in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus: Air Canada to lay off 16,500 workers amid COVID-19 pandemic – Global News
Effective this Friday, the layoffs of 15,200 unionized workers and 1,300 managers will last through April and May amid drastically reduced flight capacity from the Montreal-based airline.
“To furlough such a large proportion of our employees is an extremely painful decision but one we are required to take given our dramatically smaller operations for the next while,” chief executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.
The carrier has halted most of its international and U.S. routes in response to the global shutdown.
States from Sweden to China to the United States have rolled out aid packages for the airline sector over the past month as borders closed and travel demand plummeted amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Air Canada said its cost reduction scheme aims to save least $500 million. It includes a pledge from both the CEO and chief financial officer Mike Rousseau to forego 100 per cent of their salaries, while the rest of the executive team will give up between 25 per cent and 50 per cent.
The company will draw down about $1 billion in lines of credit to provide additional liquidity for a carrier that has a $7.3 billion cash cushion to fall back on — more than the most profitable U.S. carrier, Delta Air Lines.
Leon’s Furniture to lay off nearly 50% of workforce
Earlier this month Air Canada’s flight attendant union said 5,149 cabin crew would be temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The newly announced layoffs do not include the earlier job reductions.
The pandemic has cost thousands of jobs in the airline sector. Transat AT Inc. has laid off at least 3,600 flight attendants while WestJet has seen 6,900 departures including early retirements, resignations and both voluntary and involuntary leaves.
WestJet said Monday it is cancelling all transatlantic and U.S. routes until May 4, extending its 30-day suspension by two more weeks.
Both Air Transat and Porter Airlines have halted all flights.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
TSX down amid oil rout while Wall Street inches up in early trading – Global News
Canada’s main stock index was down in early trading on Monday as the price of oil slid to its lowest level since 2002. In the U.S.. however, stocks opened higher on Monday as President Donald Trump followed last week’s massive fiscal stimulus by extending his stay-at-home guidelines, leaving investors guessing at their economic impact.
In Toronto, Canada’s benchmark S&P/TSX composite index was down 56.86 points at 12,630.88.
In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 41.44 points, or 0.19 per cent, at the open to 21,678.22.
Coronavirus outbreak: Kenney calls for coordinated tariffs with U.S. in response to ‘predatory dumping’ of Saudi oil
The S&P 500 opened higher by 17.51 points, or 0.69 per cent, at 2,558.98. The Nasdaq Composite gained 81.08 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 7,583.46 at the opening bell.
On the currency market, the Canadian dollar traded for 70.57 cents US compared with an average of 71.14 cents US on Friday.
The May crude contract was down US$1.37 at US$20.14 per barrel and the May natural gas contract was down 2.3 cents at US$1.65 mmBTU.
The June gold contract was down US$10.80 at US$1,643.30 an ounce and the May copper contract was down 0.65 of a cent at US$2.17 a pound
— With files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Reuters
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