Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell stressed that the economy needs more fiscal and monetary policy support, and warned that mounting coronavirus infection rates are a risk.
“I think we’ll have a stronger recovery if we can just get at least some more fiscal support,” Powell told reporters Thursday after the Fed kept interest rates near zero and made no change to its pace of asset purchases. “The recent rise in new COVID-19 cases, both here in the United States and abroad, is particularly concerning.”
The Fed earlier kept the federal funds target rate in a range of zero to 0.25 per cent, where it’s been since March, and maintained bond purchases at US$120 billion a month. Powell spoke about the outlook for the economy as the results of the U.S. Presidential election remain uncertain.
“Economic activity and employment have continued to recover but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement following its two-day meeting, largely repeating language on the economy they’ve employed since July.
“The ongoing public health crisis will continue to weigh on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term,” the FOMC said in language identical to the prior statement in September.
Ten-year Treasury yields were little changed after the statement was released, hovering at about 0.77 per cent. The yield curve, as measured by the gap between 5- and 30-year yields, also held steady at about 121 basis points.
While vote counting continues in closely-contested U.S. states, the two major parties could split control of Washington. Democrat Joe Biden is on the brink of capturing the White House from Donald Trump, and his party will retain the House of Representatives. But control of the Senate may hinge on runoff elections in Georgia.
A split outcome would reduce the chances for a big fiscal stimulus package from Congress in the new year, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the economy. That may put more pressure on the Fed to ramp up its bond buying, or at least change the composition of its purchases, in an attempt to lower borrowing costs and further boost the recovery.
Powell deflected a question about the election, noting that it “comes up now and again but it is not at all a central focus of the meeting.”
Fiscal Hope Fades
“With fiscal support looking both smaller and less likely, the Fed will have to think harder about what it can do to steer the economy in the desired direction,” Roberto Perli, a former Fed economist and partner at Cornerstone Macro LLC in Washington, said before the meeting.
Fed officials, however, made no change to monthly purchases on Thursday and gave no signal they might do so when they meet again Dec. 15-16.
Powell sounded a bit more hopeful, noting “There are plenty of people on Capitol Hill who see a need for further fiscal action.”
The economic recovery remains uneven against a backdrop of surging COVID-19 cases, with more than 12 million Americans still out of work. October’s employment report, due Friday, is expected to show the jobless rate continuing to edge down to 7.6 per cent, while the pace of new hiring probably cooled for the fourth consecutive month.
The vote was unanimous. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, a voter this year, did not attend the meeting following the birth of a child. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly voted as an alternate.
–With assistance from Steve Matthews, Dominic Carey, Ana Monteiro and Liz Capo McCormick.
COVID-19 update for Dec. 1: 656 new cases, 16 more deaths in B.C. | Premier Horgan's popularity remains high – Vancouver Sun
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Fraser Health says the machines can remove viruses and bacteria from a room in as little as 20 minutes.
10:30 a.m. – Tam says older Canadians should be at front of line for vaccine
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says when looking at people experiencing the most severe illness, older Canadians are more at risk than younger Canadians with pre-existing conditions.
She says that suggests after the initial round of vaccines goes to people in high-risk living or work situations, like long-term care centres and hospital staff, the next round of immunizations should be done by age, with the oldest Canadians at the front of the line.
— Canadian Press
8 a.m. – Premier Horgan’s popularity remains high
Despite surging COVID-19 cases in the province, Premier John Horgan continues to maintain a high level of approval among British Columbians.
In a recent Angus Reid poll, conducted Nov. 24-30, 64 per cent of respondents said they approved of Horgan’s performance during the pandemic while 30 per cent disapproved and six per cent were unsure.
Although his popularity among British Columbians has dropped five points since last quarter, Horgan’s approval rating is tied for the highest in country, with Quebec Premier Francois Legault, despite new wave of COVID-19 related physical-distancing and social restrictions in B.C.
Vancouver police issued just over $7,000 in fines at four different parties over the weekend that were held despite current COVID-19 health orders.
Under current B.C. health orders, social gatherings aren’t permitted with anyone outside of the household bubble. The orders were implemented to cut down on the transmission of COVID-19.
B.C. reported 46 deaths between noon Friday and noon Monday and 2,077 new cases of COVID-19.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also added another 277 cases to B.C.’s total caseload after an earlier accounting mistake was corrected in Fraser Health.
Henry said 36 of the deaths over the previous three days were in residents of long-term health care facilities.
Between noon Friday and noon Saturday there were 750 cases reported, 731 between noon Saturday and noon Sunday and 596 between noon Sunday and noon Monday.
12 a.m. – Another vaccine candidate submitted to Health Canada for approval
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Johnson & Johnson has submitted its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for Health Canada’s approval.
It’s the fourth potential vaccine sent for assessment in Canada and the first that would require one dose to confer immunity instead of two.
Health Canada has been examining vaccine candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca since October, when those companies sent partial data on their drugs for what’s called a “rolling review.”
If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine meets Health Canada’s standards for safety and effectiveness, the Canadian government says it has a deal to buy 10 million doses and an option on up to 28 million more.
— Canadian Press
The Liberal government expects to post a $381-billion deficit in 2021, not including a new pool of stimulus funds announced on Monday that will put further strain on Ottawa’s finances as pandemic spending continues to climb.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the updated figures in her fiscal update, which showed the deficit rising still higher than Ottawa’s earlier projection of $343 billion in 2020-21.
The Liberals on Monday also promised another $70 billion to $100 billion over the next three years in stimulus measures, but declined to outline the details of the new spending, saying it was “highly dependent on the evolving health and economic situation” in Canada.
LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information
Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.
–with files from The Canadian Press
Conservatives push for parliamentary committee study of failed vaccine deal – CBC.ca
The federal Conservatives are calling for a parliamentary committee probe of the Liberal government’s plan to refit a National Research Council facility in Montreal to start producing a COVID-19 vaccine.
The government announced the $44 million project in May as part of a partnership between the NRC and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.
By August, the Liberals had confirmed the partnership with CanSino Biologics had fallen apart after the Chinese government blocked shipments of vaccine samples meant to be used in clinical trials in Canada.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has criticized the Liberals for putting too much faith in Beijing, and blamed the failed deal for Canada being late to order vaccines from other foreign companies.
The proposed committee probe would look at the investment intended to upgrade the NRC facility and how the deal affected Canada’s efforts to ensure the country has timely access to vaccines.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that Canada might have to wait for other countries to get access to vaccines, though the government and vaccine-makers have since downplayed any delay.
Toronto's top doctor says COVID-19 numbers sound 'blunt warning' as city logs record 761 new cases – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Toronto’s top doctor says the latest COVID-19 data collected for the city should send an urgent warning to residents to change their behaviour.
Toronto reported 761 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 643 set just a day earlier on Monday.
“Today’s case counts are a blunt warning,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said in a statement. “COVID-19 continues to spread easily and widely.”
De Villa pointed out that younger adults (people between the ages of 20 and 49) account for more than half (57 per cent) of today’s new cases, including 167 people in their 20s, 154 people in their 30s and 112 people in their 40s.
“It is a warning that everyone at every age shares the risk of infection, just as all of us have the ability to reduce the risk through the actions and choices we take in the next several weeks,” de Villa said.
She said data gleaned from the city’s newly launched Source of Infection Survey, given to those who test positive for the virus, are also shedding light on where people are getting infected.
One on five respondents confirmed that they had been part of a gathering of fewer than 10 people either in their own home or in someone else’s home during the period when they acquired COVID-19.
“While most cases reporting close contact with a known COVID-19 case identified their spouse or partner (21 per cent) as the case, the next most common relationships reported were friends (16 per cent) and co-workers (16 per cent),” de Villa said. “In total, 35 per cent of cases reporting close contact indicated that their close contact with known cases were only non-household contacts.”
She said the latest data underscores the importance of limiting contact with those outside of your household in order to contain the spread of the virus. She noted that some of the cases reported today would have acquired their infections prior to new lockdown restrictions placed on the city a week ago.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Toronto also climbed by 13 Tuesday to 258. One more patient with COVID-19 entered the Intensive Care Unit, for a total of 49.
While the province reported a slightly lower number of new cases (727) for Toronto Tuesday, the discrepancy arises from the fact that the city and the province use different data entry systems, each with their own cut off time for reporting cases.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Nov. 30, 2020 – Toronto Star
China lands on moon in mission to collect samples from surface – Al Jazeera English
City makes investment in water and waste as part of $2.3B capital plan – Winnipeg Sun
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