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Stock Futures Signal Higher Asia Open; Pound Dips: Markets Wrap – BNN

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U.S. stocks pushed higher with investors anxious ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election. Treasury yields dropped and the dollar touched a one-month high.

After the worst week since March, prices fluctuated as dip buyers sought to revive an earlier rally. Megacap tech shares such as Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. pared losses, while energy stocks gained. The S&P 500 climbed, though it was still off session highs. It plunged 5.6 per cent last week.

“There’s a lot of general positioning before this event, investors are a little bit jittery,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management. “You layer in a few of the other uncertainties — it’s still the COVID situation, with things going on in Europe and parts of the U.S. in the Midwest, investors were reminded that the uncertainty in that situation can still dominate markets.”

With one day before the American presidential election, volatility returned, with the Cboe’s fear gauge turning higher. Polls continue to show Democrat Joe Biden ahead, though battleground states remain tight. The U.S. reported a slight slowdown in virus cases over the weekend, but several states continued to notch record numbers of infections. The U.K.’s prime minister ordered England into a four-week partial lockdown, all but shuttering the economy, while other European countries prepared to increase restrictions.

Once the U.S. election passes, investors will contend with the Federal Reserve delivering a policy decision Thursday before the October jobs report Friday. Earnings will continue to roll in, with PayPal, Expedia and TakeTwo among the firms reporting.

Oil clawed back earlier losses amid signals that Russia, a key OPEC ally, is in talks to possibly postpone the group’s planned output hike in January. Russia, which depends on crude as a key export, saw the ruble weaken to the lowest level since March against the dollar.

Virus developments are also front and center, with daily cases continuing to surge in many parts of the world.

“Going into an election, there’s always, always jitters, there’s volatility,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “But we have the question mark regarding the surge of the coronavirus. And the question is, how much does it jeopardize the recovery?”

In other markets, gold advanced while the yield on 10-year Treasuries declined. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot index gained for a fourth day.

These are some key events coming up:

  • Earnings are due from companies including Nintendo Co., Macquarie Group Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and AstraZeneca Plc.
  • U.S. Presidential election on Tuesday.
  • EIA crude oil inventory report on Wednesday.
  • Fed policy decision on Thursday.
  • The U.S. labor market report is due Friday.

These are some of the main moves in financial markets worldwide:

Stocks

The S&P 500 Index climbed 1.1 per cent to 3,304.63 as of 3:01 p.m. New York time.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.6 per cent to 26,924.77, the biggest surge in almost four weeks.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was little changed at 10,908.45, the lowest in more than five weeks.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index surged 1.6 per cent to 347.86, the biggest jump in five weeks.

The MSCI All-Country World Index climbed 1.1 per cent to 557.23, the largest increase in three weeks.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.1 per cent to 1,173.57, the highest in almost four weeks.

The euro decreased 0.1 per cent to US$1.1634, hitting the weakest in more than five weeks with its sixth consecutive decline.

The British pound declined 0.3 per cent to US$1.2906, the weakest in almost four weeks.

The Japanese yen depreciated 0.2 per cent to 104.83 per dollar, the weakest in a week.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined three basis points to 0.85 per cent.

The yield on 30-year Treasuries declined four basis points to 1.62 per cent.

Germany’s 10-year yield fell one basis point to -0.64 per cent, the lowest in almost eight months.

Germany’s 10-year yield fell one basis point to -0.64 per cent, the lowest in almost eight months.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude surged 3.3 per cent to US$36.98 a barrel, the biggest jump in almost four weeks.

Copper rose 1.3 per cent to US$3.09 a pound, the largest rise in more than a week.

Gold strengthened 0.8 per cent to US$1,894.58 an ounce, the biggest rise in more than a week.

–With assistance from Kamaron Leach and Vildana Hajric.

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COVID-19 restrictions extended in Halifax and Hants; N.S. ramps up asymptomatic testing – CTV News Atlantic

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HALIFAX —
Nova Scotia has extended the pandemic restrictions in areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County for at least one more week.

Dr. Robert Strang noted that Nova Scotia is still reporting daily cases in the double digits, including another 15 on Friday.

“Modelling projects that this will continue for several more days,” Strang said during a news conference in Halifax on Friday. “So we need more time with the existing restrictions in place to see these numbers come down and to be certain they will stay down.”

The restrictions will remain in place until at least Dec. 16.

A decision on whether to continue with restrictions that saw Atlantic Canada’s largest city close down in-person dining at restaurants as well as close public libraries, museums, gyms and casinos, was to be made next Wednesday. Strang said that’s now been moved to Dec. 16.

He said he couldn’t make any promises about what the situation will look like then.

“What I can tell you is that the more we buckle down and stay tight right now . . . the better position we will be in to have some slight relaxation as we enter the holiday weeks before January starts.”

MORE TESTING FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT SYMPTOMS

The province also launched a period of asymptomatic testing across the province to limit the potential spread of the virus by detecting positive cases in people who do not have symptoms.

“For the past week, we have had double-digit case numbers daily and most of them are in the areas where we added restrictions last week. These restrictions are important to help us slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. “We have also ramped up testing significantly as a key measure in containing the virus. Adding more opportunities for asymptomatic testing is another way of enhancing our testing strategy.”

McNeil said that in the last two weeks, public health has conducted more than 7,000 rapid tests and these have helped flag 22 potential cases of COVID-19 from people who had no symptoms.

“Without everyone’s hard work to run these clinics, and without all of you coming forward to be tested, we would not be able to track COVID as quickly,” McNeil said.

15 NEW CASES REPORTED

Health officials in Nova Scotia reported 15 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. With 17 more cases resolved, the number of active cases has dropped to 117. 

Eleven of the new cases are located in Nova Scotia’s Central Zone. This includes a case connected to Halifax’s Citadel High School, which was first reported late Thursday.

Three cases are in the Northern Zone and are close contacts of previously reported cases.

The other case is in the Western Zone and is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. 

CASE AT PARK WEST SCHOOL

Nova Scotia Health says a positive case has also been identified at Park West School, a primary to Grade 9 school in Halifax. 

The person did not attend school on Friday and is self-isolating.

The school will remain closed to students until Dec. 10 so a deep cleaning can take place. Students will study from home in the meantime.

Nova Scotia health says, as a precautionary measure, the school’s offsite pre-primary location will also be closed until Dec. 10. Students and families can expect an update on Wednesday.

Public health will notify any close contacts of the person who tested positive. Everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and required to self-isolate for 14 days.

NEW TESTING FOR ROTATIONAL WORKERS

Strang said the province has added voluntary testing for rotational workers who are not showing symptoms.

Rotational workers can book an appointment through the COVID-19 self-assessment on Day 6, 7, or 8 of their modified self-isolation.

“This will not change any of the restrictions, but it does offer a level of reassurance if they don’t have COVID, and if they do, it will help us contain the virus quicker,” said Strang.

NOVA SCOTIA COVID-19 TESTS

The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,623 Nova Scotia tests on Thursday.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has conducted 73,254 tests. There have been 269 positive COVID-19 cases. Of those, 152 cases are considered resolved, leaving 117 active cases.

There have been no deaths during the second wave and no one is in hospital. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 70. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Nova Scotia has conducted a total of 196,425 tests, with 1,358 positive cases confirmed overall. Of those, 1,176 cases are considered resolved and 65 people have died. 

The province’s overall confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

Fifty seven per cent of cases are female and 43 per cent are male.

There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central Zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.

The numbers reflect where a person lives and not where their sample was collected.

  •  Western Zone: 63 cases
  •  Central Zone: 1,154 cases
  •  Northern Zone: 86 cases
  •  Eastern Zone: 55 cases

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to Dec. 13.

COVID ALERT APP

Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.

The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

LIST OF SYMPTOMS

Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:

  •  Sore throat
  •  Headache
  •  Shortness of breath
  •  Runny nose/nasal congestion

With files from The Canadian Press.

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Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine provides immunity after 3 months – Global News

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U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19 and that it will have as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March.

Moderna’s messenger RNA vaccine is one of the first two Health Canada expects to approve, with at least 20 million doses guaranteed for Canadians.

READ MORE: Canadians worry vaccine won’t come fast enough to stop coronavirus surge, Ipsos poll shows

Currently, only two million doses are supposed to arrive in the first three months of 2021, but the company says it should have 15 to 25 million doses available for non-U. S. deliveries before the end of March.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Moderna has said Canada — the first country to sign a deal to buy its vaccine — will be getting doses from the company’s first batches, but it’s not yet clear whether Canada will receive more than two million doses in its first deliveries.

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Coronavirus: Trudeau won’t confirm date of receiving Moderna and Pfizer vaccines


Coronavirus: Trudeau won’t confirm date of receiving Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – Nov 19, 2020

Moderna also says new data from its first small clinical trial shows patients still showed signs of good immunity three months after receiving their second dose of the vaccine.

Moderna is among several vaccine makers whose initial clinical results show their vaccines are safe and effective at creating antibodies, but since the vaccines are so new there has not been enough time to know how long those antibodies will last.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Stock Rally Reaches New Highs on Stimulus Optimism: Markets Wrap – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The Canadian Press

Bubbles are best: experts say return of sports risky as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Watching Connor McDavid let a slapshot fly or Fred VanVleet sink a deep three can be a salve to the soul of a sports fan run down by the difficult realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while health experts agree that the NHL and NBA saw great success in wrapping up their seasons in “bubbles”, some are concerned that the return of professional sports could see the virus spread not only between athletes, but into the larger community. Here’s a look at risks they see with various return-to-play scenarios as the sports calendar attempts to fill up after a quiet November:    BUBBLE UPWhen the NBA and NHL announced they were creating sealed-off environments in which to finish their seasons in the summer, some skeptics expected to see COVID outbreaks. Neither league saw a single positive test result in their bubbles. “We didn’t see those massive transmission events that we were concerned about,” said Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba. “The bubble aspect worked. The problem that we get into is how well can you maintain that for an entire season?” While effective from a health perspective, players weren’t enthused about spending months locked down and separated from loved ones. They aren’t eager to repeat the experiment this season, with the NBA having all teams play in home markets (except for the Toronto Raptors, who will call Tampa, Fla., home because of border restrictions). Some sports are trying to repeat the bubble experience, albeit for shorter time periods.The world junior hockey championship is expected to begin in a bubble in Edmonton later this month. Team Canada’s selection camp is already underway in in Red Deer, Alta., though all athletes and staff are currently under quarantine after two players and a staff member tested positive for the virus. Because there are more cases in the community now than earlier this summer, there’s a greater chance of the virus crossing into a protected environment, as anyone with access to the facilities can bring it in, Kindrachuk said. “If there’s high community transmission, you’re hoping that those people stay negative,” he said. “But even if they have a negative test, that doesn’t mean necessarily that the next day they’re not going to become positive and that they’re potentially spreading the virus. So it becomes extremely difficult.”Frequent testing in a walled-off environment allows for positive cases to be identified quickly, but the virus can be passed on before a person is tested, he added, and the number of tests needed over an extended period can take up resources needed elsewhere. “How much extra pressure do we potentially put on to communities that are underneath much larger restrictions in regards to being able to maintain these bubbles?” Kindrachuk asked.  Another bubble could add extra pressure to Alberta’s health-care system. Curling Canada announced this week that it is planning to stage events in a protected environment in Calgary. The organization has not yet released details on dates, event specifics or formats.The National Women’s Hockey League, which includes the expansion Toronto Six, will also need to protect its bubble when the league begins play in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Jan. 23. While most leagues with deep pockets have found ways to play during the pandemic, sports like curling and women’s hockey face the threat of being replaced if they spend too much time away from fans, said Moshe Lander, a sports economist with Concordia University. “If you’re not even on TV, then you can quickly find yourself irrelevant,” he said. “And that poses an existential threat to those leagues, to those circuits, where you miss a season. And that’s a problem.” PLAY ONSome leagues have opted to return with seasons that look almost normal, albeit with more face masks and less fans. The NFL has gone 12 weeks with teams travelling between cities and some stadiums even allowing a limited number of fans in the stands.But outbreaks among players and staff have climbed recently, forcing the league to postpone games and teams to play without stars. The NFL shows what happens when you combine the lack of bubbles with a high number of community cases, Kindrachuk said. “We’re seeing a lot of players, a lot of coaching staff that are testing positive. All these things start to come down to the question ‘Is it worth the risk?’” he said. After seeing success with a bubble in Florida earlier this year, NBA teams — except the Raptors — are returning to their home arenas for a season set to begin on Dec. 22.  The league tested players as they started individual workouts and announced on Wednesday that 48 players — about nine per cent — tested positive. Those athletes are now isolating before they can join group workouts. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League also decided to forge ahead with travelling when it started its season in October. It hasn’t been a smooth journey, though, with five teams having to halt activities due to outbreaks, and provincial restrictions postponing games and practices.  The league hosted a temporary bubble in Quebec City last month to help alleviate some of the schedule crunch, then announced last week it will suspend play until at least Jan. 3.When teams are moving between communities, there’s a much higher risk of transmitting COVID-19, said Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto.“(Teams) can do things to reduce it, and they’re trying to, but it’s not perfect,” he said.Junior hockey “absolutely” poses a unique challenge because athletes are together for long bus trips and are integrated with their communities, living with billet families, Morris said. The QMJHL is the only major junior league to have started its season, with the Western Hockey League saying it plans to begin in early January and the Ontario Hockey League setting early February for its return. Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario sport minister, has said OHL players will not be allowed to body check in the 2021 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Morris isn’t convinced that banning body checking is the best way to cut down on transmissions.“I would say that’s ill informed and has no relation to our understanding of the transmission of the disease,” he said.  SOMETHING NEWDetails for the 2021 NHL season have yet to be unveiled, but the league has said it is targeting early January for a start date.Several possible scenarios have been floated, including temporarily realigning divisions to reduce travel and deal with border restrictions. The possibility of an all-Canadian division “really would help” because the pandemic is at very different stages in the U.S. and Canada, and each country has different approaches to public health, said Dr. Brian Conway, head of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre. “The Canadian division makes a lot of sense,” he said. Conway also doesn’t see huge concern in having players return to Canada from other countries, assuming each man is tested and quarantines upon arrival.Testing athletes as they arrive for training camps allows teams — and the league as a whole — to create a baseline where no one is infected, Conway said. “It’ll start out well, they’ll be reassured by how things go, and then as you move forward, there will be more and more cases,” he said. After the baseline is established, athletes and staff will interact with people in the community. Because numbers in the community are currently so high, each interaction will carry greater risk than it would have earlier this year, Conway said. Those interactions between the community and athletes are what’s driving up numbers in the NFL, he added. Conway said he’s worried about what happens when athletes get time away from the rink. There have already been cases this year of NHL players being caught out at nightclubs despite the pandemic, he noted.“I’m very, very concerned that people who are in a bubble or are in a very, very controlled environment and then are (allowed) to loosen the rules for the next couple of days, that people are going to view this as a licence to do whatever they want, the old normal,” he said. “That’s a big risk.” In order to keep transmission of the virus low, the NHL needs to come up with serious consequences like steep fines or forfeited games for breaking COVID protocols, Conway said. “There needs to be in place a lot of education. Sort of ‘This is what you need to do and this is why,’” he said.  WHAT TO DO? As COVID-19 cases climb, questions are being raised about how much longer professional sports will be able to continue. “With the (way) things are going in the U.S., it’s hard to imagine any of the major sports reasonably continuing to have games outside of a bubble,” Morris said. “So they’ll either have to bubble or take a pause. I think that’s the high likelihood.” Even if games can be played, some experts wonder whether they should. The long-term impacts of the virus are still relatively unknown, Kindrachuk said, and leagues should be asking whether returning to play right now is worth the risk. “If we just put this off by the months that we need to be able to get things back in our communities to where we need, get transmission back under control, to me, that is more worthwhile,” he said. Others say society needs to continue to function in order to maintain people’s mental and physical health.  “In North America, team professional sports is so much a part of the day-to-day lives of many that it has to exist in some way,” Conway said. “So I think if we were to turn around at this stage, given what’s been done, and shut it down, there would be a very big push back that would affect health.”Sports also need to continue from an economic perspective, with multi-billion dollar TV deals that need to be fulfilled, said Lander. Leagues also need to find a way to keep players safe so competition remains at a high level, he added.“The show has to go on and it has to be legitimate. It can’t just be trotting out a bunch of third stringers or practice squads, or there’s a problem,” Lander said. Getting fans back in the stands is important, too, Lander added, but having people take in a sporting event live can’t risk public health. A super-spreader event or a death linked to a game would be catastrophic, he said. “The public backlash would be so severe that it’s not worth violating for a season or maybe even two seasons to get things done.” Athletes and sports leagues are in a unique position to help others, Morris said, but in order to do so, they’ll need to focus on public health instead of playing games. “If I were in professional sports — every single professional sport — if they want to have the greatest chance of success moving forward with the least risk to their athletes, they would be spending the time right now on mobilizing the public to follow public health measures and to encourage people, when the vaccine comes, to take the vaccine,” he said. “Sports are really influential and they can make a huge difference in the trajectory of the pandemic.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. — Follow @gkarstenssmith on TwitterGemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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