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Sony shares slide as gaming concerns re-emerge

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Shares in Sony Group Corp slid as much as 8.8% in early trade in Tokyo on Thursday after four consecutive days of gains as concerns about its gaming business re-emerge amid component shortages and competition from heavyweight rivals.

Sony fell almost 13% last month after rival Microsoft announced it was buying “Call of Duty” developer Activision Blizzard, but more recently recovered some ground as the group made its own deal for “Destiny” developer Bungie.

The Japanese conglomerate on Wednesday reported an estimate-smashing third quarter profit on the back of strong box office receipts for Spider-Man: No Way Home” and a one-off gain, while its gaming unit squeezed out a quarterly profit rise in part due to lower costs.

Sony is struggling to produce enough PlayStation 5 (PS5) units to meet demand amid component shortages and logistics snarl-ups. It sold fewer units – 3.9 million – in the third quarter than in the same period a year earlier.

The bottlenecks forced a downgrade to Sony’s full-year PS5 sales target to 11.5 million units from 14.8 million units. Console makers often take a hit on new hardware sales as they build out their install base.

There is also speculation Sony will be forced to follow Microsoft’s move to offer games on its Game Pass subscription service, potentially squeezing margins.

“We see divisional profitability coming under much pressure going forward,” Amir Anvarzadeh, market strategist at Asymmetric Advisors, wrote in a note.

Sony on Wednesday signalled aggressive plans to maintain its gaming lead, saying it aims to double first-party gaming revenues and launch at least 10 live service titles, which offer continuous and updated play.

“It’s actually a big change of course for PlayStation and an area where they were very passive,” said Serkan Toto, founder of the Kantan Games consultancy.

“Investors and competitors should take what Sony said about PlayStation’s future very seriously,” he said.

 

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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'Every dollar counts': Ontario's gas and fuel tax cut goes into effect – CBC.ca

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Ontario drivers experienced some relief from record-setting prices at the pump on Friday as the province’s gas tax cut came into effect.

The Ontario government cut the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre until the end of the year, though Premier Doug Ford said he would consider an extension if inflation remains high.

Drivers noticed the impact Friday at gas stations in the Toronto-area, where prices dropped around 11 cents overnight to $1.93 — only partly attributable to the tax cut.

“Every dollar counts,” said Matthew Johnston as he filled up a cargo van at a downtown Toronto gas station. “This will actually help a bit.”

Gas prices in Toronto are up nearly 40 per cent since the start of the year, reaching a record high $2.15 per litre in early June before ending the month around $2.00 per litre.

Cut also applies to diesel

Johnston, who runs an upstart catering business and works at a winery, says the soaring price of gas paired with inflation has forced him to cut back on spending.

“I haven’t been able to go out or do anything anymore. It’s honestly just all gone to gas, rent — you know, just the cost of living,” he said.

He usually puts $60 in the tank to make his near-daily commute to the Niagara area. On Friday, he opted to try a $40-fill-up. 

The tax cut is expected to cost the province $645 million while it’s in effect. Analysts note Ford may face a tough decision in December when the measure expires and with prices likely to rise again before Christmas.

The legislation passed this spring will also cut fuel tax, which covers diesel, by 5.3 cents per litre until Dec. 31.

Hermain Kazmi called the tax cut a move in the right direction as he pumped gas into his car. He said high gas prices recently pushed him to use more public transit, but he expected to return to his previous driving habits if prices came down.

Kazmi was “100 per cent” in support of the government extending the tax cut into 2023, even expressing the hope it could lead to more financial relief.

“I don’t think a 10 cent drop would make a huge impact. It’s a good change but I think it needs to come down lower depending on how much inflation is and how salaries have not matched how inflation has gone up,” he said.

Price tied to increased demand, invasion of Ukraine

The soaring price of gas, a key driver of inflation, is tied to an increased demand for oil as the economy reopens after the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation has also been exacerbated by a global supply crunch caused in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ali Avali stopped to fill up his SUV on the way to a park outside Toronto, with his dog, an Alaskan Malamute, perched in the backseat.

“The only reason I drive is because of this guy. I take him out to do a bit of running in the country,” he said.

Once the loan is paid off on the SUV, Alavi said he plans to switch to an electric vehicle. He said he opposed a gas tax cut, suggesting that if prices continued to go up, more people may also be inclined to make the switch. 

“When I see gas prices going up, it doesn’t really piss me off,” he said. 

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LILLEY: Trudeau government tries to deny responsibility for Canada's air travel delays – Toronto Sun

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Our airports are a disaster and somehow the Trudeau government and their supporters think they can just say, “but it’s bad in other places too!”

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Is that really a good enough answer for Canadians?

It shouldn’t be.

The truth of the matter is that our delays have been going on since the end of March. Airports like Charles de Gaulle in Paris are experiencing problems now due to a strike.

On Thursday, Air Canada was the most delayed airline in the world with 74% of flights not leaving or arriving on time, according to Flight Aware. WestJet was the third most delayed airline globally with 59% of flights delayed.

The discount brand for both carriers, Jazz and WestJet Encore, weren’t far behind them on the list.

Is this due to problems globally or here at home?

You know the answer, but let me give you some more statistics. Canada had three airports in the list of the 20 most delayed airports in the world for departing flights on Thursday – Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. We had five of the top 20 most delayed airports for arriving flights because Vancouver and Calgary made the list along with the other three.

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We don’t have the busiest airports in the world, just the most delayed, but somehow we’re expected to believe that government policies don’t have anything to do with this.

Not a single American airport is in the top 20 for having the most delays, but five Canadian airports are. Chinese airports like Shenzhen, Shanghai and Hangzhou dominate the list in large part because of that’s country’s COVID Zero policies.

“Our policies are so powerful that they’re impacting the entire world,” a senior Liberal messaged me after a recent column on how the Trudeau government’s policies are part of the problem.

They sent links to stories of airport delays in Amsterdam, England and elsewhere.

It’s all true that air travel is a problem elsewhere and staffing issues, including for airlines, is part of that problem, but so are government policies. And to deny that, or minimize it, is to ignore the problem.

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“On our end, we have done everything we can,” Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra said earlier this week.

He said the problems at airports are due to airlines scheduling, staffing issues, etc. Yet people are still needing to show up for their flights hours ahead of time to ensure they make it through security on time. Passengers are still being delayed and held back on planes once they land because the customs area is too busy and can’t hold any more people.

Those are issues the government is directly responsible for, not the airlines or airports.

The Trudeau government just extended a number of COVID travel measures until Sept. 30, including mandatory use of the ArriveCan app. According to customs officers, the app has increased the time it takes to process passengers by 400%.

Yet Alghabra wants you to think they have done all they can to alleviate the situation.

Other countries and other airports outside of Canada are experiencing problems but none as long or persistent as what we have been dealing with here in Canada. Instead of blaming passengers or airlines as Alghabra has done, he needs to work with all parties to find a solution.

That includes the government fixing the problematic areas they are responsible for at Canada’s airports.

blilley@postmedia.com

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95,000 GM vehicles unfinished in storage due to chip shortage – CBC News

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The global shortage of computer chips and other parts has forced General Motors to build 95,000 vehicles without certain components during the second quarter.

The Detroit automaker said in a regulatory filing Friday that most of the incomplete vehicles were built in June, and it expects most of them to be finished and sold to dealers before the end of the year.

The unsold vehicles amounted to 16 per cent of GM’s total sales from April through June. The company said Friday it sold more than 582,000 vehicles during the quarter, down more than 15 per cent from a year ago.

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson said only a small percentage of those vehicles, to be completed at a later date, were reserved for Canadian dealers.

The company reaffirmed its full-year net income guidance of $9.6 billion US to $11.2 billion with pretax earnings of $13 billion to $15 billion. For the first time, the company predicted it would make $2.3 billion to $2.6 billion before taxes in the second quarter. That fell short of analyst estimates of $3.97 billion, according to FactSet.

The chip shortage has vexed automakers around the globe since 2020, forcing many automakers to temporarily close factories and trim production. The shortage has limited the supply of new vehicles on dealer lots in the U.S. to around 1 million, when in normal years it’s about 4 million at any given time.

That has pushed prices to record levels and limited vehicle selection, but it’s also led to strong profits for most automakers.

In a prepared statement, GM said its North American production has been relatively stable since the third quarter of last year, but short-term parts disruptions are continuing.

“We are actively working with our suppliers to resolve issues as they arise to meet pent-up customer demand for our vehicles,” the statement said.

Most automakers have predicted minor improvement in the chip shortage during the first half of the year, with far better supplies from July through December.

GM shares fell slightly to $31.69 in Friday morning trading, after the filing was made public.

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