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Number of Americans on jobless benefits inches down for 1st time since pandemic began – CBC.ca

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The number of Americans continuing to receive government jobless benefits declined in the week ending May 16 for the first time since COVID-19 struck, even as millions of people continue to join the unemployment rolls.

The U.S. Department of Labour said 21.052 million people continued to receive benefits that week. That’s down from the record 24.912 million seen the previous week.

“The number of Americans who remain on UI is still uncomfortably high,” Bank of Montreal economist Jennifer Lee said, “but it is not at a record anymore and that is a start.”

The initial claims figure — which represents the number of people filling out applications for jobless benefits for the first time — held above two million last week for a 10th straight week amid second-wave layoffs in the private sector, such as the 12,000 announced this week by plane manufacturer Boeing.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totalled a seasonally adjusted 2.123 million for the week ended May 23, from a revised 2.446 million in the prior week. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims falling to 2.1 million in the latest week from the previously reported 2.438 million.

Though claims have declined steadily since hitting a record 6.867 million in late March, they have not registered below two million since mid-March. The astonishingly high level of claims has persisted even as non-essential businesses are starting to reopen after shuttering in mid-March to control the spread of COVID-19, an indication it could take a while for the economy to dig out of the coronavirus-induced slump.

“I am concerned that we are seeing a second round of private sector layoffs that, coupled with a rising number of public sector cutbacks, is driving up the number of people unemployed,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania.

“If that is the case, given the pace of reopening, we could be in for an extended period of extraordinary high unemployment. And that means the recovery will be slower and will take a lot longer.”

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Uber launches on-demand grocery delivery in Latin America and Canada – The Verge

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Uber is launching an on-demand grocery delivery service in Latin America and Canada, the company announced on Tuesday. It’s Uber’s first major move into the competitive world of online grocery shopping since acquiring Cornershop, a leading online grocery provider in Chile, Mexico, Peru, Canada, Brazil, and Colombia.

Grocery delivery will be available through both Uber’s main app and its Uber Eats app. Customers will see food delivery available from local grocery stores and will be able to receive their orders “in as little as one to two hours,” according to Uber Eats head of product Daniel Danker.

The service is available starting today in 19 cities across Latin America and Canada. Later this month, it will be available in the US, Danker said. And when it launches, it will be included in Uber’s subscription services, Rider Pass and Eats Pass, in which customers can get free delivery on orders over $30.

The announcement also comes on the heels of Uber’s $2.65 billion acquisition of Postmates. Uber is scrambling to expand its food delivery options as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pummel its core ride-hailing business. At the height of the pandemic in April, Uber said its ride-hailing division was down about 80 percent. And now, with the number of cases spiking in many parts of the US, the company’s losses could continue to mount.

“I think this would make a lot of sense in a pre-COVID world,” Danker said in a call with reporters. “But our world has just fundamentally changed. And so this represents even more of a huge responsibility for us.”

It’s not hard to see why Uber is banking so much on food delivery. Bookings in the company’s Uber Eats division were up more than 54 percent year over year, thanks to increased demand for food deliveries, the company reported in May. Meal delivery has seen an acceleration in demand since mid-March, with 89 percent year-over-year gross bookings growth in April excluding India. But the company has also moved fast to abandon its unprofitable markets, recently shuttering its Eats business in eight countries.

Uber is entering a crowded field, with huge companies like Amazon and Instacart jockeying for market share with major grocers like Kroger and Walmart. And it’s not an obvious moneymaker either. Last year, only 3 percent of grocery sales in the US take place online. Sales are certainly increasing during the pandemic — US online grocery revenue hit a record $7.2 billion in June — but customers say they feel hesitant to shop for groceries online for fear of being overcharged or experiencing late deliveries, according to a recent survey.

Cornershop was founded in 2015 in Santiago, Chile. The company was almost acquired by Walmart for $225 million in 2018, but Mexican antitrust regulators ultimately blocked the deal, arguing Walmart could not guarantee a level playing field for its rivals.

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Uber launches new grocery delivery service in Montreal and Toronto – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Uber Technologies Inc. is getting into the grocery delivery business and is using some Canadian cities to help it launch the venture.

The San Francisco-based tech giant said Tuesday that users in Montreal and Toronto can now order groceries through its Uber and Uber Eats apps.

“They’ll be able to place orders from local merchants and receive them in as little as one to two hours,” Daniel Danker, who runs Uber’s product team, told reporters.

A demonstration of the new service showed thousands of items available from retailers including Walmart, Metro, Rexall, Costco, Longos, Pet Valu and Well.ca.

The company’s foray into the grocery sector comes after Uber advertised in November 2018 that it was hiring a head of grocery product in Toronto.

The company remained secretive about the role, but a year later, Uber’s potential interest in a grocery service was a hot topic again when it announced it was acquiring a majority stake in Chilean grocery delivery start-up Cornershop.

The deal was held up by a Mexican Competition Authority investigation, but is supposed to close in the coming days.

Cornershop will serve as Uber’s partner in the grocery delivery venture, which will launch in more than a dozen Latin American cities alongside the Canadian markets.

Uber faces stiff competition with its new service. Amazon.com Inc. and Instacart are already going head-to-head with supermarket brands like Walmart and Loblaw Companies Ltd.

Uber believes it can edge out some of the competition because it sees groceries as a natural extension of its booming food delivery service and a way for the company to become a one-stop shop for every meal.

Grocery delivery has only become more important during the COVID-19 pandemic because more Canadians have transitioned to work from home and Uber’s ride-hailing business is still in “recovery mode,” according to Danker.

“I think this would have made a lot sense in a pre-COVID world, but our world has just fundamentally changed and so this represents even more of a huge responsibility for us,” Danker said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2020.

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Canada’s LNG industry on shaky ground as high-profile investors back off: report – Globalnews.ca

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Legendary investor Warren Buffett’s decision to walk away from a proposed export terminal for liquefied natural gas in Quebec is being held up in a new report as a sign that the LNG sector in Canada and elsewhere is on shaky ground.

The Global Energy Monitor report released Monday says Buffett’s move in March underscores the growing political and economic uncertainty that LNG projects are facing even as governments around the world tout liquefied natural gas as a clean alternative to coal power.

Read more:
Trans Mountain, LNG Canada say project progressing despite coronavirus pandemic

Canada has emerged as a major proponent of expanding liquefied natural gas as a way to fight climate change abroad and create jobs and revenue at home, with numerous multibillion-dollar projects to facilitate LNG exports to Asia and elsewhere in the works.

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Yet Global Energy Monitor suggested Buffett’s decision to withdraw investment firm Berkshire Hathaway’s planned $4-billion investment in an LNG export terminal in Saguenay, Que., is a sign of things to come.

Neither Buffett nor Berkshire Hathaway explained their reasons for the move, but the company behind the terminal project blamed “the current Canadian context” — an apparent reference to nationwide rail blockades and protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in B.C. at the time.






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New report casts doubt on LNG ‘clean claims’


New report casts doubt on LNG ‘clean claims’

“While many projects face opposition from local communities, the case of the Energie Saguenay LNG Terminal in Quebec shows the potential for a local protest to galvanize a national movement,” said the Global Energy Monitor report.

Global Energy Monitor is an international non-governmental organization that catalogues fossil-fuel infrastructure around the world and advocates for more investments in renewable energy.

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Monday’s report goes on to suggest that political opposition is only one of many new challenges to the LNG sector, with another being a dramatic drop in the price of gas due to an oversupply at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has sent demand plummeting.

Read more:
LNG Canada says it’s hitting ‘critical construction milestones’ amid blockades

The result: plans to build pipelines, terminals and other infrastructure in Canada and around the world have been put on hold _ or dropped entirely.

The report lists 13 LNG projects in Canada alone that have been cancelled or suspended in recent years. That includes a $10-billion LNG export facility in Nova Scotia, which is now in limbo as the company behind the project tries to decide whether to move ahead or not.

One of those apparently not affected is LNG Canada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline, which was the target of this year’s protests and blockades over a route that crosses traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia. The company said last month that it plans to have 2,500 people working on the 670-kilometre pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat by September.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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