The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions has lifted its pandemic-era prohibition on the shareholder-friendly moves that bank investors have come to crave.
In a speech Thursday afternoon, Peter Routledge, the superintendent of financial institutions, said that effective immediately, federally regulated lenders will be allowed to hike regular dividends and executive compensation. Share buybacks will be allowed, subject to the superintendent’s approval.
“As we update our expectations on capital distributions, we continue to expect that management and boards of directors will act responsibly, and employ robust risk management practices and sensitivity analysis that uses conservative and prudent assumptions to guide decisions pertaining to capital distributions,” Routledge said in a release.
The decision by Canada’s banking regulator comes more than a year and a half after the country’s federally regulated banks were told to stop raising their dividends and buying back shares. OSFI announced that expectation of lenders under its purview in March 2020, as it aimed to ensure the financial system could withstand the ravages of COVID-19.
However, not only did the banks withstand the pandemic, they thrived as the feared wave of loan defaults never materialized.
As a result, they’ve seen their capital climb well above required levels – which has spurred anticipation for the day when they’d be able to share the wealth with investors.
In a report to clients after OSFI unshackled the banks on Thursday, Barclays Capital Analyst John Aiken said that among the Big Six, Bank of Montreal and National Bank of Canada are best positioned for big dividend hikes in the near term, while Laurentian Bank stands out among the regional lenders.
“With a considerable level of excess capital, we expect the Canadian large cap banks could go beyond their usual conservative stance, and reward investors with a more aggressive bias for dividend hikes and share buybacks,” he wrote in a note titled At Long Last, OSFI Announces…Release the Capital!
Aiken pointed out that dividend hikes don’t chew into accumulated capital levels, and estimates that the Big Six will still be sitting on $48 billion in excess capital after they raise their dividends — which opens the door for share buybacks, M&A, or what the industry calls “inorganic” growth.
Similarly, in a report to clients on Sept. 1, Credit Suisse analyst Mike Rizvanovic pinpointed National Bank of Canada as having the most capacity to raise its dividend, estimating that at a 45 per cent payout, the bank’s quarterly dividend could jump 40 per cent in fiscal 2022 to $0.99 per share from the current rate of $0.71.
For the Big Six lenders as a whole, Rizvanovic pegged the average potential quarterly hike at 17 per cent.
“Regulatory [Common Equity Tier 1] capital ratios for the Big Six continue to trend higher, ending the third quarter at a very robust average of 13 per cent, driven mainly by strong earnings growth but also aided by an absence of share buybacks and a suppressed quarterly dividend due to OSFI’s ongoing restrictions on capital return to shareholders. We continue to model [the fourth quarter] for a removal of restrictions,” Rizvanovic said in the report.
GTA gas prices may fall 11 cents on Sunday – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, November 27, 2021 3:38PM EST
Canadians should experience the fastest drop in gasoline prices in nearly 13 years on Sunday as fears about a virulent new COVID-19 variant are expected to provide a break of 11 cents per litre at the pumps.
Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, said the national average price could drop to about $1.32 per litre but begin to rise again midweek.
“(Sunday) represents the single largest decrease at the pumps we’ve seen going back to 2009,” he said in an interview.
Global crude oil prices plunged Friday over fears about a new COVID-19 variant called Omicron that prompted Canada to ban entry for foreign nationals who travelled through southern Africa.
The January crude oil contract fell 13.1 per cent or US$10.24 on Friday and currently stands at US$68.15 per barrel.
The decrease came as U.S. stock markets closed early Friday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Sunday and Monday are going to be the best days for Canadians to fill up, including British Columbia,” McTeague said
Even residents of flood-ravaged B.C. will save on the province’s high gasoline prices despite facing rationing because severe flooding has shut both the Trans Mountain pipeline and the province’s lone refinery.
Drivers of non-essential vehicles can only purchase up to 30 litres per visit to a gas station in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky area, Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.
East Coast residents won’t reap the immediate benefits of Sunday’s price drop because its regulated regional system averages price movements. That provides price predictability but blunts price discounts.
Despite the upcoming decrease, national gasoline prices have surged nearly 43 per cent in the past year as the reopening of the global economy from pandemic lockdowns prompted a recovery in crude prices.
McTeague suggested Canadians shouldn’t get too comfortable with the energy savings. He said prices are expectd to increase as OPEC and its allies, who are meeting on Monday, will likely refuse to increase production any further. Energy traders realize that Friday’s decrease was overdone and “flies in the face of fundamentals,” he added.
“My sense is that the decreases that we saw were a little exaggerated and overbought, and for that reason I think we might see a little bit more balance come back to the markets and fundamentals by Wednesday,” McTeague said.
“Unless there’s further unsettling news of greater and further lockdowns, I would expect that oil prices are probably going to recover US$3 to US$4 a barrel by Monday or Tuesday, which means by Wednesday or Thursday we could be looking at increases in the order of four or five cents a litre.”
McTeague said some gasoline savings will continue for a couple of weeks, but he foresees crude climbing back to about US$90 a barrel, which would translate into prices in Canada exceeding $1.50 per litre.
Impending carbon tax increases will further boost prices.
A tax of 2.5 cents per litre, including HST, will take effect on April 1, 2022. It will be followed in December by the clear fuel standard that will add another 18.1 cents per litre including HST, said McTeague.
Adding to the inflation pressure is the Canadian dollar which is less valuable than when it was at par the last time crude prices were around US$80. That reduces the purchasing power for all kinds of products, including energy and food.
The Canadian Automobile Association said that as of early Saturday morning, Manitoba had the lowest average pump price of $1.35/L, followed closely by Alberta at $1.377, while Newfoundland and Labrador was the highest at $1.583 with British Columbia at $1.558.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2021.
Oil crashes more than US$10 as new COVID variant roils markets – BNN
Oil prices suffered one of the largest ever one-day plunges, crashing more than 11 per cent on Black Friday as a new coronavirus strain sparked fears that renewed lockdowns will hurt global demand.
The crash, the 7th largest ever for Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, may prompt the OPEC+ cartel to re-consider its policy when it meets next week, with the group increasingly leaning toward pausing its output hikes.
The sell-off was amplified by low liquidity on a festive day in the U.S., the breach of several technical supports and Wall Street banks rushing to dump oil futures to protect themselves against positions in the options market.
The development apparently wrong-footed many in the oil market who had been comforted by low inventory levels and demand that had rebounded to 2019 levels, said Rebecca Babin, senior energy trader at CIBC Private Wealth Management.
“It was a lack of downside that had us continuing to think nothing bad could happen,” she said. “No one was thinking we could get a variant that we’re not familiar with and it could have meaningful impact.”
The price drop capped a dramatic week for the oil market, which started when U.S. President Joe Biden challenged OPEC+ by tapping the country’s strategic petroleum reserve in an effort to bring gasoline prices down. China, India, Japan and South Korea all joined the American effort.
Oil traders and analysts were divided about whether the flash crash was an excessive reaction to the COVID news. Damien Courvalin, oil analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York, called the drop an “excessive repricing” and ventured OPEC+ will respond pausing its production increases by three months.
High gasoline retail prices prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to seek ways to ease the pressure on consumers, leading to Tuesday’s announcement that the U.S. will release 50 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with China, Japan, India, South Korea and the U.K. also set to tap inventories. Still, oil rose on the day that the move was confirmed, suggesting traders had already priced in the new supply, or that they were underwhelmed by the supply response.
OPEC+ had warned previously it would reconsider a potential output increase if other nations went ahead with a reserve release. UBS Group AG said Friday that OPEC+ could choose to pause its current planned output hike of 400,000 barrels a day, or even cut production.
- West Texas Intermediate for January fell US$10.24, or 13.1 per cent, from Wednesday’s close to settle at US$68.15 a barrel in New York. The decline was the largest since April 2020.
- There was no settlement Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday and all transactions will be booked Friday
- Brent for January settlement tumbled US$9.50 to settle at US$72.72 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange
Friday’s oil selloff was likely exacerbated by a lack of trading activity during the U.S. holiday period, coming a day after Thanksgiving, and as the New York market closed early.
“It’s a sign the market got carried away from itself and that we still remain very vulnerable to COVID-19,” said John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital LLC.
Aside from the headline prices, crude traders also watched several other notable shifts in the market. WTI crude futures closed below its 200-day and 100-day moving averages, signs of technical weakness. The extreme pressure on the U.S. benchmark meant its discount to Brent expanded, reaching the widest since May 2020.
The picture wasn’t much brighter in oil-product markets, the part of the oil complex most directly affected by end-user demand. Diesel plunged, particularly in Asia, as the market began to price in a potential renewed hit to economic growth.
“This is a huge overreaction in terms of the market,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultant Energy Aspects Ltd. said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “This is the market pricing in the worst possible scenarios.”
Shoppers taking advantage of Black Friday deals in Ottawa – CTV Edmonton
Shoppers rushed to the stores in Ottawa on Black Friday, hoping to get the best deals of the year heading into Christmas.
Some have even come from other countries for these sales like Elizabeth Elnakla, who is here from Scotland visiting her daughter Reem Almaqla.
Elnakla is what you might call, a Black Friday newbie.
“This is my first Black Friday. I’m super excited, it is so busy,” says Elnakla.
She’s looking to snag all the deals she can before she heads back home in three days.
“Shopping back home, I live in a small town called Dundee and it’s not very large,” says Elnakla. “So the shopping is never crazy. It’s quite quiet.”
Last year, many were stuck doing their Black Friday and Boxing Day shopping online. This year, back to the in-person busyness.
“We missed Black Friday last year,” says Almaqla, who wanted to show her mom what Black Friday was all about. “I just want her to go through this experience. To see what Black Friday is like here.”
Tanger Outlets in Kanata was packed for Black Friday sales all week, but nothing like today.
“There’s nothing like a good sale, right? We all love the deal,” says shopper Josie Mousseau. “It’s just nice being outside in the fresh air. At least you get a little bit of an escape with your mask. You can take it off occasionally whereas when you’re confined to a mall, you really can’t.”
Monika Mehl describes the amazing deal she got on a Michael Kors purse.
“I got it for 70 per cent off, and then an additional 15 per cent off. And because everything totalled over $300, I got another 10 per cent off.”
Stores at Tanger opened at 7 a.m. Friday. Maria Argyriou left Montreal at 5 a.m. to make sure she got here on time.
“We went to all the sports stores and they’re all basically 50 per cent off,” says Argyriou.
Montreal is known for its shopping, but she wanted to try her luck in Ottawa.
“There’s a lot of people [in Montreal]. Here there’s less people, and we can get better deals,” says Argyriou.
With lineups at dozens of stores, shoppers stood in line for up to 30 minutes, braving the rain and cold to get deals only available once a year.
All day, bags of items flew off the shelves. And with supply chain issues this year, many of these shoppers know that once it’s gone, it’s gone.
“So you better get your shopping done honey,” laughs Mousseau.
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