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Surge in demand sees Robin Hood flour running out of its iconic yellow bags – CBC.ca

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Feverish demand for baking has one of the biggest sellers of flour in the country saying it is having trouble finding enough of its iconic yellow bags to put it in.

As millions of people across the country shelter in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, there has been a surge in the popularity of baking at home, both for food and to pass the time. Early on, store shelves were cleared out of their flour. Anecdotal reports suggest flour has rivalled toilet paper as one of the hardest items to find.

But now it’s not so much the flour that’s in short supply, it’s the packaging.

Robin Hood typically sells more flour in Canada than just about anyone, and the company confirms to CBC News that it has seen increased demand.

“We have noticed an upswing,” said Ray Hancart of Smucker Foods of Canada, which owns the Robin Hood brand. “Particularly at the outset, when people were stocking up on products they felt they would need around the house, [but] we are still seeing elevated numbers.”

While Robin Hood says it has plenty of product, it has run out of bags to sell it in, which is why the company will temporarily start selling its product in some stores in nondescript white bags.

“We are experiencing some delays with our normal packaging so we quickly shifted to this temporary packaging,” Hancart said.

“We have made a temporary switch to white and brown bags from our traditional yellow bags to make sure we could replenish quickly.”

Hancart added that most of the white bags will be found in Western Canada.

While the bags may look different, Hancart stresses the flour inside is the exact same product it always was — and the company is in no danger of running out of flour anytime soon.

“Consumers should rest assured there’s nothing else changed about the product,” he said. “We are working as quickly as possible to get flour back on store shelves.”

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Number of Americans on jobless benefits inches down for 1st time since pandemic began – CBC.ca

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The number of Americans continuing to receive government jobless benefits declined in the week ending May 16 for the first time since COVID-19 struck, even as millions of people continue to join the unemployment rolls.

The U.S. Department of Labour said 21.052 million people continued to receive benefits that week. That’s down from the record 24.912 million seen the previous week.

“The number of Americans who remain on UI is still uncomfortably high,” Bank of Montreal economist Jennifer Lee said, “but it is not at a record anymore and that is a start.”

The initial claims figure — which represents the number of people filling out applications for jobless benefits for the first time — held above two million last week for a 10th straight week amid second-wave layoffs in the private sector, such as the 12,000 announced this week by plane manufacturer Boeing.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totalled a seasonally adjusted 2.123 million for the week ended May 23, from a revised 2.446 million in the prior week. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial claims falling to 2.1 million in the latest week from the previously reported 2.438 million.

Though claims have declined steadily since hitting a record 6.867 million in late March, they have not registered below two million since mid-March. The astonishingly high level of claims has persisted even as non-essential businesses are starting to reopen after shuttering in mid-March to control the spread of COVID-19, an indication it could take a while for the economy to dig out of the coronavirus-induced slump.

“I am concerned that we are seeing a second round of private sector layoffs that, coupled with a rising number of public sector cutbacks, is driving up the number of people unemployed,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania.

“If that is the case, given the pace of reopening, we could be in for an extended period of extraordinary high unemployment. And that means the recovery will be slower and will take a lot longer.”

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Profit falls at TD and CIBC as loan loss provisions soar – CBC.ca

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Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and TD Bank Group missed quarterly earnings expectations on Thursday, as they set aside billions to cover future loan losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The massive jump in provisions took the total amount set aside by Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal , Bank of Nova Scotia, National Bank of Canada , CIBC and TD Bank to $10.93 billion.

The money set aside for credit losses on both performing and impaired loans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued pressure on oil prices has added to pressure on Canada’s biggest lenders from decade-low interest rates.

Canadian banks have grown their oil and gas loan books faster than total lending in recent quarters, and their business loan books overall expanded during the second quarter as borrowers unable to access debt markets drew down credit lines.

CIBC posted an adjusted profit of 94 Canadian cents per share for the quarter ended April, compared with analysts’ expectations of $1.58 per share.

TD Bank, Canada’s second-biggest lender, reported an adjusted profit of 85 Canadian cents per share, missing estimates of 89 Canadian cents.

Net income was $1.5 billion at TD, down 52 per cent from last year. Net income was $392 million at CIBC, down 70 per cent from last year.

CIBC also reported lower net income across divisions and higher expenses. Controlling costs is particularly vital for CIBC, which has already said it expects expenses to grow this year at about double the rate of its rivals.

It flagged layoffs earlier this year to aid its efforts to cut costs and become more efficient.

CIBC set aside $1.41 billion in the quarter for future loan losses, compared with $255 million a year earlier, while total provisions for TD Bank jumped to $3.22 billion, compared with $633 million a year earlier.

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Irving Oil Purchasing North Atlantic Refining Corp. – VOCM

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A tentative deal has been struck for Irving Oil to take over North Atlantic Refining and the Come by Chance oil refinery.

Irving Oil signed the agreement with Silverpeak to acquire North Atlantic, subject to a regulatory review and the conditions of sale being met.

Silverpeak purchased the facility from the Korea National Oil Company back in 2017 amid widespread speculation that Irving was also eyeing the refinery at the time.

Operations at the refinery were idled in March due to a downturn in the industry and concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The refinery shutdown came ahead of planned upgrades and expansion work that officials had indicated would extend the life of the facility.

New Brunswick-based Irving says North Atlantic Refining provides a “reliable supply of fuel products to businesses and consumers across Newfoundland.”

There’s no immediate word on Irving’s plans regarding a possible restart of operations at Come by Chance.

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