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Stocks slide to lowest since Dec. 2020 amid renewed recession concerns – Yahoo Canada Finance

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U.S. stocks sank Thursday as investors weighed the potential economic costs of the Federal Reserve’s ongoing fight with inflation.

The S&P 500 fell by 3.25% to 3,666.77, its lowest level since Dec. 2020. It also erased gains after rising 1.5% on Wednesday. The Nasdaq Composite plunged by more than 4%, bringing the index down by more than 30% for the year-to-date. The Dow sank by 741 points, or 2.4%, to close below 30,000 for the first time since January 2021.

Stocks, which moved initially to the upside following Fed’s first 75 basis point rate hike since 1994 on Wednesday, turned around as traders assessed the potential that the central bank’s moves to bring down inflation would trigger a deeper downturn in economic activity.

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The Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) on Thursday showed the committee itself now sees a less rosy economy ahead as its continues to hike interest rates. The FOMC now anticipates the unemployment rate will come in at 3.7% by the end of this year (versus the 3.5% rate seen in March), and that real gross domestic product will rise just 1.7% (versus the 2.8% increase seen previously). The Fed also raised its forecast for the rate of core inflation at year-end and its expectation for where the Fed funds rate would end 2022.

The lowered growth outlook coupled with a more aggressive path on interest rate hikes ahead appeared to vindicate some pundit’s concerns that the Fed’s window to achieve a “soft landing” had nearly or already passed. Fed Chair Jerome Powell suggested Wednesday that a 50 or 75 basis point interest rate hike seemed most like at the central bank’s next meeting in July. While the Fed is still forecasting GDP growth will end each of 2022, 2023 and 2024 in positive territory, some suggested this may be overly optimistic.

“The Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) and Chair Powell’s presser highlighted a Committee that sees an increasingly narrow path to a soft landing, while still maintaining that as a baseline,” Matthew Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note. “The statement removed the reference to maintaining a strong labor market as inflation is brought under control and the SEP anticipates that the unemployment rate will eventually rise by about half a percentage point. We continue to anticipate that the Fed will have to move more aggressively than signaled at [Wednesday’s] meeting and that this tightening will trigger a recession in 2023 that leads to a more material rise in the unemployment rate.”

Powell, for his part, said Wednesday that the Fed was not looking for a recession to achieve the central bank’s goals of bringing down inflation. However, whether such an outcome is ultimately avoidable as a byproduct of the Fed’s moves remains a question for markets, and one that will likely keep volatility at play, some strategists said.

“‘Clear and convincing’ evidence of moderating inflation has yet to materialize … Further volatility is likely with the Fed firmly data dependent,” Julian Emanuel, senior managing director at Evercore, said in a note. “Ideally, this will include equities reflecting signs of capitulation, the groundwork for ‘a’ bottom is being laid.”

“Until further necessary and sufficient signs (gasoline price turn and VIX [spikes above 40] on heavy stock volume) of ‘a’ bottom, not necessarily ‘the’ bottom appear, we maintain balanced exposure,” he added.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on June 14, 2022 in New York City. The Dow was up in morning trading following a drop on Monday of over 800 points, which sent the market into bear territory as fears of a possible recession loom. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on June 14, 2022 in New York City. The Dow was up in morning trading following a drop on Monday of over 800 points, which sent the market into bear territory as fears of a possible recession loom. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 14: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on June 14, 2022 in New York City. The Dow was up in morning trading following a drop on Monday of over 800 points, which sent the market into bear territory as fears of a possible recession loom. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On the move

  • Twitter (TWTR) shares turned lower Thursday afternoon, erasing earlier gains after Elon Musk’s highly anticipated all-hands meeting with the social media company’s employees. Musk reportedly discussed a goal of growing Twitter’s user base to 1 billion users, and suggested both subscription and advertising sales would be key to the company’s revenue growth going forward, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. However, he also reportedly did not directly address during the meeting whether he had committed to completing his acquisition of the firm.

  • Robinhood (HOOD) shares fell anew on Thursday amid the recent drop in cryptocurrency prices, and as Wall Street firms struck an increasingly pessimistic tone on the online trading platform’s stock on increased regulatory concerns. Atlantic Equities downgraded the stock to Underweight from Neutral on Wednesday and slashed its price target to the lowest on Wall Street at $5 a share, Bloomberg data showed.

  • Adobe (ADBE) shares declined before the company’s fiscal second quarter earnings report, which is set for release Thursday after market close. Consensus analysts see the software company delivering adjusted earnings of $3.31 per share on revenue of $4.35 billion.

This post will be updated.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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A shortage of pilots is making travel chaos in Canada even worse – CBC News

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From pandemic-related travel restrictions to extreme weather events, Canada’s travel industry has navigated an unprecedented amount of uncertainty of late. And now, just as demand for travel has returned to its 2019 level, airlines are navigating their next patch of turbulence: a lack of qualified pilots.

According to Transport Canada, in a typical pre-pandemic year, roughly 1,100 pilot licences were issued. When complemented by foreign-trained pilots, that was generally more than enough to satisfy the needs of carriers as large as WestJet and Air Canada, all the way down to regional, charter and cargo airlines.

But as demand for flying collapsed in 2020, so did the number of new pilots getting their paperwork. Government data shows less than 500 licences were awarded in 2020, a figure that fell to less than 300 in 2021 and just 238 last year.

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The department told CBC News in a statement that while labour shortages in the airline sector has been “identified as a priority area for action,” there are no current plans to loosen regulations. But the agency says it’s doing what it can to “increase the competitiveness of the Canadian flight training industry as well as improve the viability of aviation careers to address any shortages.”

Whatever changes do come will do little to help anyone in the short term, and travellers are already seeing the impact of the industry’s current labour crunch.

Staff shortages were a factor in charter airline Sunwing’s cancellation of 67 flights over the last two weeks of December, along with extreme weather.

Salaries for experienced pilots generally go up faster and higher at the major airlines than they do at most others, they are so typically able to have their pick among those available. That causes shortages just about everywhere else.

The head of the Air Transport Association of Canada says it’s a problem that had been brewing for many years, even before the pandemic.

“We haven’t had enough pilots for a long time, mostly at the regional level,” John McKenna said.

Long, expensive process

Getting a commercial licence is the last step in a multi-year process of becoming a pilot, a journey that can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take years.

In Canada, for many that journey ends with a dream job at either WestJet or Air Canada, but because of the expense and time commitment of training a new pilot, the major airlines often hire top staff from smaller carriers instead of methodically developing their own.

“Their fishing grounds is the regional carriers. And the regional carriers go down to the smaller carriers, air taxi groups … those levels have been hurting for many years,” McKenna said.

Canada’s two biggest airlines told CBC News in emailed statements that while there is indeed a higher than normal demand for pilots right now, both of them are managing to meet their needs.

“As a large global carrier operating the most modern, largest aircraft, we are a very desirable destination for talented pilots,” AIr Canada said. “As a result, we are able to attract pilots as required.”

“We have and continue to responsibly manage and plan our operations to meet the anticipated demand of our guests and are fully staffed across our network to support our operation,” WestJet said.

That’s not the case for everyone else. Small airlines often have so few pilots on staff that it doesn’t take the loss of very many to stop planes from flying.

Dave Boston
Dave Boston is a licensed pilot and also runs a job board to help other pilots find work. (Dave Boston)

In the fall, Sunwing applied to bring in more than 60 temporary foreign workers to meet demand for pilots, but that application was rejected, which exacerbated the chaos seen at the end of 2022. The airline has since cancelled almost all flights out of Saskatchewan and most out of Manitoba for the rest of the winter travel season.

Pandemic reduced numbers, too

It’s not just the big boys gobbling up all the qualified pilots, either. Many simply left the profession during the pandemic.

“Two years ago, to the day, literally almost every pilot [was] out of work,” says Dave Boston, a pilot with 25 years experience who’s also the man behind Edmonton-based aviation job board, Pilot Career Centre.

Faced with furloughs and layoffs at airlines big and small, many pilots tried to wait it out, but many simply moved on, he told CBC News in an interview.

“Many who had businesses or other interests, after maybe six months to a year, had to put food on the table, and they left the industry,” Boston said.

For the pilots who are left, headhunting is the new normal. He says he hears from desperate airlines every day, because they either can’t find the staff, or just lost yet another one. “It’s very common for pilots, unfortunately, to work there for six months [then] get a surprise interview that they don’t expect to get, and then they’re gone,” he said.

“It’s a real challenge right now.”

Zona Savic, right, listens to her instructor inside the cockpit of a flight simulator unit at Seneca College. Savic has long dreamt of being a pilot, and a lack of qualified flyers means she should have plenty of job prospects once she graduates.
Zona Savic, right, listens to her instructor inside the cockpit of a flight simulator unit at Seneca College. Savic has long dreamt of being a pilot, and a lack of qualified flyers means she should have plenty of job prospects once she graduates. (Shawn Benjamin/CBC)

One person hoping to meet that challenge is Zona Savic, a soon-to-be graduate of one of Canada’s premier aviation schools, Seneca College in Peterborough, Ont.

While she had planned to go into engineering, she joined the Air Cadets while in high school, and was quickly bitten by the aviation bug.

“I just knew from the moment that I was in that plane, this is what I was going to do,” she told CBC News in an interview.

She’s on track to get her pilot’s licence soon, and while she may do additional training to become an instructor herself, she says it’s a load off her mind to know that she won’t have to worry about finding a job.

And even better for the industry, she has no qualms about working her way up at smaller carriers flying niche, remote routes.

” I just love the feeling of flying, so if that’s what I’m doing, I don’t really care if I’m in Paris, or in Nunavut,” she says. “Anything is good for me, as long as I get to experience that.”

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Q4 economic growth slows to 1.6% as aggressive hikes bite – BNN Bloomberg

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Canada’s economy geared down at the end of 2022, growing at about half the pace of the third quarter and setting the stage for a period of little to no growth.

Preliminary data suggest gross domestic product was flat in December as increases in retail, utilities and the public sector were offset by decreases in the wholesale, finance and oil and gas industries, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday in Ottawa. That followed a 0.1 per cent gain in November, which matched economist expectations in a Bloomberg survey, and a 0.1 per cent increase in October.

Overall, the monthly gains point to annualized growth in the fourth quarter of 1.6 per cent, according to an initial estimate from the statistics agency. Though it will likely be revised, it’s down sharply from a 2.9 per cent pace in the third quarter, 3.2 per cent during April to June, and 2.8 per cent in the first three months of last year.

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The numbers show that higher interest rates, which have jumped 425 basis points since last March, are slowing economic activity and weighing on consumption. The lagged effects of the Bank of Canada’s aggressive tightening campaign are expected to drag growth to a halt this year, with economists seeing two quarters of shallow contraction in the first half of 2023.

That’s a key reason why Governor Tiff Macklem and his officials said this month they plan to hold the benchmark overnight lending rate at 4.5 per cent if growth and inflation evolve broadly in line with their outlook. While the 1.6 per cent growth in the final quarter is slightly stronger than policymakers forecast last week, signs of slowing demand are mounting.

“The economy hasn’t yet absorbed the impact of past rate hikes,” James Orlando, an economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, said in a report to investors. “Even though today’s growth numbers are holding up well, the BoC can feel comfortable keeping its policy on cruise control a little while longer.”

In November, growth in services-producing industries was partially offset by a decline in the goods sectors, the statistics agency said. Interest-rate increases continued to dampen activity for real estate agents and brokers, residential building construction, and legal services which have been trending downward since spring.

Construction dropped 0.7 per cent, with new construction of single detached homes and home improvement leading the decline. Accommodation and food services contracted 1.4 per cent on lower activity in bars and restaurants. Retail trade decreased 0.6 per cent, with the food and beverage subsector falling to its lowest level since April 2018.

The central bank expected fourth-quarter growth of 1.3 per cent annualized, while economists in Bloomberg surveys predicted a gain of 0.9 per cent. Official data for December and the fourth quarter will be released Feb. 28.

Based on initial estimates, Canada’s economy expanded 3.8 per cent in 2022, broadly in line the Bank of Canada’s estimate for a 3.6 per cent growth.

“The overriding message is that the economy is just managing to keep its head above water, which squarely fits with the BoC’s view,” Doug Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal, said in a report to investors.

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Nike sues Lululemon, says footwear infringes patents – CTV News

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Nike sued Lululemon Athletica on Monday, saying that at least four of the Canadian athletic apparel company’s footwear products infringe its patents.

Nike in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court said it has suffered economic harm and irreparable injury from Lululemon’s sale of its Blissfeel, Chargefeel Low, Chargefeel Mid and Strongfeel footwear.

Nike said its three patents at issue concern textile and other elements, including one addressing how the footwear will perform when force is applied.

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The Beaverton, Oregon-based company is seeking unspecified damages.

Lululemon, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Christopher Cushing) 

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