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S&P 500 closes shy of record as US election kicks into high gear –



The S&P 500 index on Monday once again closed just shy of its all-time record, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished in the red, as investors positioned their portfolios for the United States presidential election that kicks into high gear this week. 

The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings accounts – finished up 0.27 percent at 3,381.99. That put the benchmark index within a hair’s breadth of its all-time closing record of 3,386 reached on February 19 – before COVID-19 lockdowns plunged the US economy into its deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1920s. 

Since bottoming out in March, the S&P has come roaring back to within striking distance of its pre-pandemic peak, driven by trillions of dollars in stimulus from the US Federal Reserve and Congress to help businesses, workers and consumers cope with the unprecedented financial fallout of the pandemic. 

Much of the S&P 500’s impressive rebound is courtesy of a red hot rally in technology shares that have benefitted from remote work and shifting consumer habits in the wake of the pandemic.

Shares compromising the S&P 500 are weighted by their market capitalisation or the total value of a company’s outstanding shares.

Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google parent Alphabet and Facebook accounted for 14 percentage points of the index’s more than 50 percent rally since March, analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients on Sunday. Those tech behemoths now constitute a massive 23 percent of the index’s capitalisation.

“Stated differently, the other 495 stocks collectively contributed just 72 percent of the rebound,” said Goldman.

The enduring love affair investors are having this year with tech stocks helped drive the Nasdaq Composite Index to another record close on Monday of 11,129.73. 

Breaking with the winning streak on Wall Street, the Dow – which weights stocks by their price and not their overall market value – finished the session down 0.31 percent at 27,844.91.

The US elections are entering a turbo-charged phase with the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions on tap for this week and next week, respectively.

Goldman Sachs analysts on Sunday raised their S&P 500 year-end price target to 3,600 from 3,000, but noted that  uncertainty surrounding the election “represents a significant risk to our year-end forecast”.

“The coronavirus introduces a major complication in the timely tabulation of voting results,” Goldman noted. “Consider the New York 12th Congressional District Democratic primary, where it took six weeks to count all the absentee ballots and determine a winner. And this was just a primary election.”

Investors are waiting for a read on the pulse of US consumers with major retailers including Walmart, Target and Home Depot reporting earnings this week. 

One huge uncertainty hanging over consumers – and the broader US economy which is largely powered by consumer spending – are stalled negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in Congress over a new round of virus relief aid.

Banking and financial shares came under pressure on Monday after Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway revealed in regulatory filings on Friday that it has significantly pared back its holdings in major US banks including Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase and dissolved its stake in Goldman Sachs Group.  

Shares of Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase closed down 3.28 percent and 2.63 percent respectively, while Goldman Sachs shares finished down 2.35 percent.  

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LOTTO MAX second prize not so bad for local couple –



Shane and Laura Toms of North Bay have $245,723.10 more in their bank account after winning a LOTTO MAX second prize in the September 24 draw.

Shane and Laura matched six numbers plus the bonus number to win the prize. 

The parents of two, discovered their win when Shane checked their ticket using the OLG Lottery App.

“I laughed, I thought it was funny,” Shane shared, while at the OLG Prize Centre in Toronto to pick up their cheque.

“Then I called my wife while she was at work to tell her the big news!”

The couple plan on saving their winnings for their children’s future. 

“It feels good. We’re excited. The future is taken care of,” they concluded.

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Here's the story of the $4 bill and a Sault-based blunder – SooToday



From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

From 1900 to around 1911, people across Canada may have been carrying around in their wallet a little piece of Sault Ste. Marie . . . in the form paper money.

While it may seem like an unusual amount today, the Dominion of Canada issued $4 bills beginning in the late 1880s; their popularity was largely sparked by the exchange rate at the time, and the ease of converting $4 Canadian into one British Pound.

And, of course, the $4 bill was just one of the many monetary denominations that are no longer being printed, including 25 cent, one dollar, and two dollar bills.

The original $4 bills pictured the Marquess of Lorne, the fourth Governor General of Canada. In 1900, the design of the bill changed to feature portraits of Lord Minto, the eighth Governor General, and his wife. During that revamp, the bill also began to highlight Canadian scenery – or at least, that was the intent.

In between the portraits of Lord and Lady Minto, an illustration showed a ship making its way through the Sault Ste. Marie locks. The image would highlight the locks as part of an important shipping route – and, since the locks had only just been completed in 1895, it was also an example of impressive, new infrastructure in the Dominion of Canada.

There was just one problem: whoever designed the bill did not check that they had the country correct. The $4 Canadian bill mistakenly featured the locks in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.

As the Globe and Mail wrote in a retrospective column about the gaffe, “Somebody’s face must have been very red at Ottawa.”

When the mistake was noticed, the issue was recalled. In 1902, the government began to issue new $4 bills – this time with a depiction of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario locks as a ship passed through.

In 1904, $4 bills ceased being issued, but they continued to circulate for several years after that; however, by 1947, according to a Globe and Mail article, they would rarely show up in circulation anymore.

Today, the bills are a collector’s item. And, while you are unlikely to open up your wallet and see Sault Ste. Marie on your paper money anymore, copies of the bill remain – in private collections and in places like the British Museum and the Bank of Canada Museum.

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at and look for more Remember This? columns here

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Ontario premier says no to early election despite soaring poll numbers – CTV Toronto



Ontario Premier Doug Ford is rejecting suggestions that his party will call an early election to take advantage of his soaring poll numbers thanks to his government’s ongoing pandemic response.

Ford insisted several times on Friday that the next election will be held on the scheduled date of June 2, 2022 and that he has no desire to call an early vote because the Progressive Conservatives has a four-year mandate. 

“We aren’t going to be calling it in the spring, we’ll be calling it the regular time,” Ford said during a news conference at Queen’s Park where his party holds a comfortable majority of seats. 

Ontario’s PC party, along with the provincial Liberals and NDP have been racing to nominate candidates in Ontario’s 124 ridings – nearly two years before the writs are issued. 

Sources with Ontario’s Liberals say the party feels it needs to be ready because “all signs appear to be showing an early election.”

Liberals point to the premier’s campaign-style tour of Ontario during the summer, a stepped up fundraising campaign, and fast-tracked nominations as reasons behind the speculation. 

Next election about leadership

Despite ruling out an early vote, Ford says the ballot box question during next election will be about leadership and which party got the province through the pandemic.

“People will have a very clear decision. They’ll have a decision about leadership,” Ford said. “Who do they have confidence in getting the economy back up and running like we did.”  

Ford boasted about the 300,000 jobs created during the first two years of him time in office – employment gains that were wiped out during the COVID-19 restrictions that saw Ontario’s unemployment rate spike to 12.3 per cent in June. 

Recent polls, however, suggest that despite the economic hardship, the premier’s overall pandemic response could deliver an electoral windfall. 

A recent survey by The Angus Reid Institute found 45 per cent of decided voters said they would cast a ballot for the Progressive Conservative party, up from 36 per cent in February. 

The NDP were a distant second with 25 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 22 per cent and the Greens at four per cent. 

The Premier’s personal approval rating now sits at 66 per cent, according to Angus Reid, up from 31 per cent in February. 

Ford rose to power in 2018 with 40 per cent of the popular vote and 76 seats in the provincial legislature. The party currently has 72 seats in the legislature, after the departure of two MPPs and the eviction of two others. 

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