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Posthaste: Trump plans to send US$1,200 checks to Americans. Should Trudeau do the same? – Financial Post

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Good Morning!

Here comes our fiscal knights in dark suits.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the House of Commons passed emergency legislation to unleash up $82 billion to help Canadians cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

In the U.S., the fractious policymakers also spurred into action. The White House and Congress agreed on a fiscal package of more than US$2 trillion, which still awaits a vote in the Senate, as well as House approval.

Bloomberg is reporting that if the package is approved, it would provide individuals direct payments to lower- and middle-income Americans of US$1,200 for each adult, as well as US$500 for each child. Unemployment insurance would be extended to four months, the benefits would be bolstered by US$600 weekly and eligibility would be expanded to cover more workers.

“While we still need to see some more details, stripping out the lending programs appears to leave about US$1.1 trillion in direct support, which weighs in at a hefty 5.2 per cent of GDP,” said Robert Kavcic, senior economist, at Bank of Montreal. “For the record, Canada’s package last week came in at 1.2 per cent of GDP.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the $82 billion fiscal measures are only the first steps, and the government has taken nothing off the table to help Canadians. The emergency legislation, presumably gives government flexibility to quickly get financial relief to Canadians and businesses without having to recall Parliament each time.

There is a dire need for quick action.

More than two-in-five Canadian households have already lost work due to the COVID-19 crisis and one in five say they are expecting it to happen any time now, a new poll by the Angus Reid Institute has found, writes National Post’s Stuart Thomson.

Nearly one million Canadians applied for jobless claims last week as the economy rapidly deteriorates, according to a senior government official. Worryingly, 37 per cent of those who have experienced job loss in their household say they’re not equipped to handle even an extra $100 expense in the next 30 days, according to the poll.

Given the dire situation, the government may need to roll out more relief — and fast.

Here’s what you need to know this morning:

  • Province of Ontario will release a fiscal update
  • Dr David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, to provide update on COVID-19 in Toronto
  • First Nations Health Managers Association and Indigenous Services Canada, will stream a virtual Town Hall to discuss how COVID-19 is affecting health managers, frontline health workers and First Nations communities in Toronto
  • B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on novel coronavirus in Victoria

Ontario, the country’s largest province in terms of economy and population, is in virtual lock down and is facing rising economist costs as most businesses remain closed.

In that backdrop, the province’s financial minister Rod Phillips is set to unveil a fiscal update today.

“It’s… going to make clear to Ontarians we’ve got the money to support our health-care system, we’re going to be supporting jobs and people as well and that their government has a plan,” Phillips told The Canadian Press.

— Please send your news, comments and stories to yhussain@postmedia.com.
— Yadullah Hussain @Yad_Fpenergy

With files from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg

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China’s March Factory Outlook Jumps as Global Threat Looms – Yahoo Canada Finance

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(Bloomberg) — Chinese manufacturing activity rebounded strongly in March, signaling that the world’s second-largest economy is restarting just as it faces a growing threat from slumping external demand.

For manufacturing, the official purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.0 this month, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday. That’s up from a record low of 35.7 in February and above the 50 mark which signals improving conditions. The gauge covering services and construction was at 52.3.

While the rise indicates better sentiment at Chinese factories, output remains a long way from normal. The survey asks firms to state how business was compared to last month, so the data just show that Chinese companies think things have improved from the sharpest contraction since at least 2005, when the series began.

China is still expected to have an unprecedented economic contraction this quarter, something that would have been unthinkable before the viral outbreak. The outlook for the April-June period depends both on how quickly domestic demand can rebound now the virus is contained, and the strength of demand from overseas markets like the U.S. which are facing their own spikes in infections.

“The number above 50 doesn’t mean that economic activity is fully resumed,” Zhang Liqun, a researcher at China Logistics Information Center, which helps compile the data, said in a statement on its website. “We need to fully understand the unprecedented austerity and complexity, and should pay great attention to the virus shocks on production and demand.”

The Second Virus Shockwave Is Hitting China’s Factories Already

S&P 500 futures erased gains after hitting their highs Tuesday morning after the data. Asian stocks were mixed.

Chinese factories, which endured weeks of work suspensions in February after travel and trade stopped nationwide, are now facing canceled export orders as the pandemic hits the rest of the world.

“While manufacturing PMI rebounded rapidly in March, the survey showed companies still face relatively big operational pressures,” the NBS said in a statement, adding that more firms are reporting funding shortages and falling demand than in February. “The global virus spread will hit the world economy and trade seriously and bring new, severe challenges to the Chinese economy.”

A sub-index of new export orders rose to 46.4 in March, up from 28.7. A manufacturing employment indicator stood at 50.9, compared with 31.8 in February.

What Bloomberg’s Economists Say…

“Despite improving conditions, the Chinese economy has not returned to normal, and faces challenges unseen for decades on both domestic and external fronts. Policy support is likely to be stepped up, especially fiscal measures. We also expect more monetary policy easing.”

— Chang Shu and David Qu, Bloomberg Economics

See here for the full note

Around the region data showed a mixed picture for industry. Japanese industrial output rose slightly in February from January, boosted by output of electronics in the period before the virus really started to hit global supply chains. Car production was down and total output is forecast to drop 5.3% this month.

South Korean output dropped 3.8% in February from January, with much of that caused by a shortage of auto parts affecting car production, according to Citigroup economists.

In China’s services and construction sectors, while the headline number rose above 50, much of the underlying activity was still in contraction, with employment at 47.7 and new export orders at 38.6. That indicates companies don’t want to hire before they can confirm there’s been a solid return of business activities, according to Iris Pang, Chief Greater China Economist at ING NV in Hong Kong.

“This won’t change overall policy stance,” according to Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank AG. “I think the government is looking at the hard data to determine the policy steps, which is probably pointing to further economic headwinds and more policy support.”

(Adds markets in sixth paragraph, data on Japanese and South Korean output from 10th paragraph.)

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China shows strong factory activity in March – MarketWatch

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BEIJING–An official gauge of China’s manufacturing activity rebounded strongly in March as factory production resumed after the coronavirus epidemic was largely put under control in the country.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.0 in March from a record low of 35.7 in February, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday. The 50 mark separates expansion of activity from contraction.

The March result came in above the median forecast of 51.5 by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. Purchasing by manufacturers is a leading indicator of business activity because factories buy supplies in anticipation of demand.

The statistics bureau said the reading only reflects work resumption from February and it doesn’t mean China’s economic activity has returned to normal.

The production subindex climbed to 54.1 from 27.8 in February. The new-export-orders subindex, a gauge of external demand, rose to 46.4 in March from 28.7 in February. The subindex measuring imports increased to 48.4 from February’s 31.9.

The government has rolled out a slew of measures to help factories resume production and retain workers, including offering tax cuts and cash returns. The People’s Bank of China on Monday lowered a key interest rate in the country’s interbank market, the latest effort by Beijing to restart an economy struggling to recover due to the coronavirus.

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Most actively traded companies on the TSX – Yahoo Canada Finance

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TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Toronto Stock Exchange (13,038.50, up 350.76 points.)” data-reactid=”13″>Toronto Stock Exchange (13,038.50, up 350.76 points.)

Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Down three cents, or 6.59 per cent, to 42.5 cents on 17.5 million shares.

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up $2.54, or 15.46 per cent, to $18.97 on 15.6 million shares.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ). Energy. Up $2.40, or 18.02 per cent, to $15.72 on 15.5 million shares.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Down 17 cents, or 11.64 per cent, to $1.29 on 15.2 million shares.

Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE). Energy. Up six cents, or 2.55 per cent, to $2.41 on 11.4 million shares.

MEG Energy Corp. (TSX:MEG). Energy. Up 27 cents, or 22.13 per cent, to $1.49 on 11.4 million shares.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Companies in the news:” data-reactid=”20″>Companies in the news:

Transat AT. (TSX:TRZ). Down 74 cents or 7.8 per cent, to $8.75. The Competition Bureau’s warning about Air Canada’s proposed takeover of Transat AT Inc., which owns Air Transat, should be taken in context, analysts say. The watchdog said Friday that eliminating the rivalry between the two Montreal-based carriers would discourage competition by prompting higher prices and fewer services. Desjardins Securities analyst Benoit Poirier said he believes the purchase will still be approved “considering the companies’ willingness to address the bureau’s competition concerns,” such as potential dominance of airport slots.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX:CM). Up $1.33 to $79. An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled against the CIBC in an overtime class-action lawsuit filed more than a decade ago. Judge Edward Belobaba found the bank liable for breaching its overtime obligations to a class of about 31,000 current and former tellers, personal bankers and other front-line workers in branches across Canada.

Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. (TSX:CAR.UN). down 23 cents to $41.90. Some of Canada’s biggest landlords say they’re committed to working with tenants who have lost their job because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mark Kenney, CEO of Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust, says the company is committed to working with those who have suddenly lost their job, and is “violently against” evicting anyone who’s in distress.

Freshii Inc. (TSX:FRII). Down one cent to $1.23. Freshii Inc. is delaying the filing of its latest financial results as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on its restaurants and franchise partners. The company says it has also temporarily “streamlined its head office workforce” in a move to cut costs. It did not say how many people were affected. Freshii says the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a material impact on its business, operations and financial performance for at least the first half of 2020.

Parkland Fuel Corp. (TSX:PKI). Up 85 cents or 3.5 per cent to $25.05. Parkland Fuel Corp. is cutting its 2020 capital spending budget by 52 per cent and trimming executive salaries in response to the uncertain economic impact of the novel coronavirus. The Calgary-based company, which sells fuel through more than 2,600 service stations throughout Canada and in the United States and Caribbean, says it plans to spend $275 million this year, down from its earlier guidance of $575 million.

Air Canada (TSX:AC). Down 67 cents or four per cent to $1608. Air Canada will temporarily lay off more than 15,000 unionized workers beginning this week as the airline struggles with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The layoffs will continue through April and May amid drastically reduced flight capacity from the Montreal-based airline. Air Canada says the two-month furloughs will affect about one-third of management and administrative and support staff, including head office employees, in addition to the front-line workers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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