TORONTO – The rebound in Canada’s main stock index was short-lived as it pushed lower Friday to end a third-consecutive losing week amid concerns about impending action by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 128.76 points to 20,633.27 despite hitting an intraday high of 20,825.21. The Toronto market had a strong morning start after posting its best performance in 10 months Thursday. It then lost ground throughout the session before recovering a bit approaching the close.
The TSX was down 2.3 per cent on the week but is up 18.4 per cent so far in 2021.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 59.71 points at 34,580.08. The S&P 500 index was down 38.67 points at 4,538.43, while the Nasdaq composite was down 295.85 points or 1.9 per cent at 15,085.47.
Investors have been jittery this week in response to the more hawkish comments from the U.S. central bank around speeding up the tapering of bond purchases at the same time as a new COVID-19 variant has surfaces and economic activity is slowing, said Greg Taylor, chief investment officer of Purpose Investments.
“The risk this week is around the Fed making a policy error,” he said in an interview.
Taylor said investors have been nervous in the last few days about the Fed taking away stimulus while the economy in the rest of the world slows down a little bit.
Canadian markets have been somewhat insulated by strong bank earnings.
The heavyweight financials sector was slightly lower on the day, led by a 4.4 per cent drop by Canadian Western Bank. That was partially offset with BMO and CIBC rising 2.4 and 2.1 per cent, respectively, as the Canada’s big banks wrapped up strong quarterly reports that saw them each boost dividends.
Telecommunications was the only sector on the TSX to close higher on Friday.
The broad-based decrease on the TSX was led by health care and the technology sector, which sustained even stronger declines in the U.S.
Tech dropped 2.5 per cent as shares of Hut 8 Mining Ltd. fell 10.8 per cent while Lightspeed Commerce Inc. was down 7.7 per cent and Shopify Inc. was 2.4 per cent lower.
There was a disconnect in the sector’s movement because bond yields were weaker, which is typically a supportive move for these companies.
Big tech stocks have really come under pressure in the last few days as previous pandemic winners such as DocuSign Inc. suffered a 42 per cent decline, Taylor said. 42.2
After starting the day higher, energy lost 0.3 per cent as crude oil prices fell.
The January crude oil contract was down 24 cents at US$66.26 per barrel after climbing as high as US$69.22 in the morning. The January natural gas contract was up 7.6 cents at US$4.13 per mmBTU.
Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. led the declines, losing 2.1 and 1.7 per cent, respectively.
The Canadian dollar traded for 78.05 cents US compared with 78.03 cents US on Thursday.
Materials also fell as copper prices softened while gold was stronger as shares of Lithium Americas Corp. lost 8.7 per cent.
The February gold contract was up US$21.20 at US$1,783.90 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 3.2 cents at nearly US$4.27 a pound.
Earlier, the United States and Canada posted November employment numbers. U.S. non-farm payrolls disappointed as they increased by 210,000 jobs, far below forecasts for about 550,000 jobs. However the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 per cent, the lowest since February 2020.
In Canada, the jobless rate fell to six per cent as 153,7000 jobs were added as the share of the core working population with a job climbed to an all-time high.
Taylor said markets were at risk coming into the week.
“We haven’t had a correction in a long time and were due for some volatility. The question will be when will buyers step back in.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:CVE, TSX:SU, TSX:CWB, TSX:CM, TSX:BMO, TSX:HUT, TSX:LSPD, TSX:SHOP, TSX:LAC, TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD
Canadians may see less food in grocery stores, but experts say no need to panic – Global News
Canadians will likely experience shortages of some food items and increased prices as the Omicron COVID-19 variant snags supply chains and a vaccine mandate takes effect for cross-border truckers, according to industry experts.
However, they say that Canadians should not worry about food availability and that no one needs to panic buy.
“There is food on the grocery shelves,” said Michelle Wasylyshen, spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, which represents big-box grocery stores in the country.
She said, though, that there could be shortages of certain products, such as soups, cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats.
Some Canadians may have noticed empty shelves recently, but Wasylyshen said that is a result of the winter storm that hit Canada over the previous week.
While weather plays a role in shipment delays, other, long-term issues still persist that has the retail council “concerned,” Wasylyshen said.
These include labour shortages from absenteeism and the Omicron COVID-19 wave, which has caused workers to have to isolate and impacted operations.
Fortunately, both British Columbia and Ontario have said that it appears the peak of the fifth wave of the pandemic has been reached, so more workers are expected to return, Wasylyshen said.
Alberta grocery stores continue to see more empty shelves as supply chain issues persist
Trucker vaccine mandate impact
Another hit likely to impact supply is the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers on both sides of the border.
Canada’s mandate came into effect on Jan. 15, while the U.S.’s did a week later, on Jan. 22.
How great an impact the mandates will have on grocery stores is yet to be seen, but Dalhousie University food distribution professor Sylvain Charlebois said on The Roy Green Show that Canada imports $21 billion worth of food from the U.S. every year, and 70 per cent of that comes across the border on wheels.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) estimates as many as 32,000 Canadian and American cross-border truck drivers may be taken off the roads due to the mandates. That represents 20 per cent of the 160,000 truckers total and is in addition to nearly 23,000 drivers the industry was short before the mandate, according to StatCan and Trucking HR Canada.
“It’s hard to believe that there won’t be any disturbances,” Charlebois said.
Since winter has put a pause on many Canadian crops, we rely heavily on the U.S. for fruits and vegetables, he said, making our food system at this time “way more vulnerable.”
Charlebois said the impact of the mandate on grocery stores will vary.
He said most larger grocery companies operate their own fleets and will likely be fine because they probably already have their own vaccine mandates.
However, smaller grocers may be more affected because they don’t operate their own fleets and are not “huge customers for transportation companies.”
With a reduced amount of drivers, companies will have to choose who gets deliveries, Charlebois said.
Trucking executive Dan Einwechter of Challenger Motor Freight Inc. in Cambridge, Ont., has already sounded the alarm on the mandate, telling Reuters that consumers will see that “there’s not as many choices on the shelves” within two weeks.
From field to fork, farm groups worry Omicron could impact food production across Canada
However, Gary Sands, senior vice-president at the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, which represents about 6,900 businesses across Canada, said some statements from truckers have been alarmist and are “overstating the case.”
“When you walk into grocery stores you might see certain areas are bare, where the product has not yet arrived, but it’s coming,” he said.
He did say that there have been product delays, shortages and some products not arriving at all, and warns that supply shortages are “more acutely felt” in smaller communities.
The trucker vaccine mandate has compounded the issue, Sands said.
When there is less supply but the demand remains the same, it’s almost certain that food prices will increase, Sands said.
He is already seeing price increases of about 25 per cent for fruit and vegetables, and 18-20 per cent for dairy, and warns consumers to definitely not expect any promotions for the time being.
Price increases are necessary to offset the cost of goods beset by labour shortages, as small grocers often face tight margins. If they don’t increase prices, they could go out of business.
“The big watch for consumers in the weeks ahead is just going to be the impact on prices,” Sands said.
Get ready to pay more at the grocery store in 2022
That increase comes as Canada faces unprecedented inflation, with the country’s inflation rate hitting a 30-year high of 4.8 per cent in December.
Economists have said the vaccine mandate for truckers will keep the prices higher for longer.
Sands doesn’t predict any relief for prices until the pressure on labour decreases, which he said could be helped by more access to rapid test kits to decrease the time workers isolate.
Nevertheless, Sands was hopeful that shortages will be temporary and said there is no reason to panic or stockpile as was seen at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 when toilet paper was piled high in shopping carts, even if consumers are seeing some bare shelves now.
Instead, Sands recommends shoppers adjust their habits, such as going one week without a certain product like bananas or visiting more than one store.
“This is going to be a bit of a challenge the next three, four, five weeks,” Sands said. “But we’re going to get out of it. The Canadian supply chain is strong.”
— with files from Reuters
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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Cruise ship changes course after U.S. judge orders seizure – CTV News
A cruise ship that was supposed to dock in Miami has instead sailed to the Bahamas, after a U.S. judge granted an order to seize the vessel as part of a lawsuit over millions of dollars in unpaid fuel.
Cruise trackers show Crystal Symphony currently docked in the Bahamian island of Bimini.
Passengers were taken by ferry to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.
“We all feel we were abducted by luxurious pirates!” passenger Stephen Heard Fales posted on Facebook.
It was unclear how many passengers were aboard, with one news outlet reporting 300 and another, 700. According to the company website, the vessel can carry up to 848 passengers.
The ship was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Saturday. But a federal judge in Miami issued an arrest warrant for the ship Thursday, a maritime practice where a U.S. Marshal goes aboard a vessel and takes charge of it once it enters U.S. waters.
Passengers and entertainers said on social media they were surprised to find out about the legal case. One guest posted a letter on Facebook from Crystal Cruises Management that said the change in itinerary was due to “non-technical operational issues.”
The lawsuit was filed in a Miami federal court by Peninsula Petroleum Far East against the ship under a maritime procedure that allows actions against vessels for unpaid debts. The complaint says Crystal Symphony was chartered or managed by Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises, which are both sued for breach of contract for allegedly owing US$4.6 million in fuel.
Crystal Cruises announced earlier this week that it was suspending operations through late April. Besides Crystal Symphony, it has two other ships currently cruising, which end their voyages on Jan. 30 in Aruba and on Feb. 4 in Argentina.
“Suspending operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and examine various options moving forward,” the company said in a statement earlier this week.
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