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TD CEO warns pandemic recovery 'won't always be smooth' after quarter results –



Canada’s economy is starting to rebound from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic slowdown, but TD Bank Group’s chief executive officer is warning that trouble may still lie ahead.

“The route to recovery won’t always be smooth,” Bharat Masrani told financial analysts on a Thursday conference call.

“The longer-term outlook is still uncertain and a measure of caution is warranted.”

Masrani’s comments came as his bank reported its third-quarter profit fell 30 per cent compared with a year ago.

The bank earned $2.25 billion or $1.21 per diluted share for the quarter ended July 31, down from a profit of $3.25 billion or $1.74 per diluted share a year ago.

Earnings improved from the second quarter when the bank reported a profit of $1.5 billion, due to volume growth, moderating credit provisions and strong wealth and wholesale revenues.

“TD entered this crisis from a position of strength and through prudent financial and risk-management practices, we remain well capitalized with a high-quality balance sheet and strong liquidity,” said Masrani.

Revenue totalled $10.67 billion, up from $10.5 billion.

On an adjusted basis, TD said it earned $1.25 per diluted share for the quarter, down from $1.79 a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.18 per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

‘Measures cannot be sustained’ says CEO

The bank was helped by higher insurance and wealth management revenues, but hampered by its continued efforts to protect itself from bad loans.

Provisions for credit losses reached $2.19 billion, up from $655 million a year ago, but down from $3.22 billion in the second quarter.

While TD was able to pull back on the amount of money it put aside for such provisions and saw a significant decline in requests from customers for loan deferrals, Masrani stressed that the bank is not in the clear yet.

The next quarter could bring a second wave of COVID-19 just as the federal government is ending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and transitioning people facing hardships to a new Employment Insurance program.

Masrani stated “unprecedented actions” from the bank, government, regulators, central banks and the industry at large staved off more significant issues, but noted those measures “cannot be sustained indefinitely.”

“As a bank and as a society, we must remain prudent, but also flexible and ready to adapt in real-time as the situation changes on the ground,” he said.

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US STOCKS-Tech stocks lift Wall Street as economic rebound slows – Reuters



(For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rise to 870,000

* Nikola slides after Wedbush downgrade

* Accenture drops, BlackBerry rises on quarterly earnings

* Indexes up: Dow 0.39%, S&P 0.54%, Nasdaq 0.81% (Updates to early afternoon)

Sept 24 (Reuters) – Wall Street climbed in choppy trading on Thursday, with investors returning to the perceived safety of technology-related stocks as a surprise rise in weekly jobless claims signaled a slowdown in economic growth.

Nine of the 11 major S&P indexes were trading higher, with information technology leading gains.

Apple Inc, Inc, Netflix Inc , Nvidia Corp and Facebook Inc, which have outperformed at a time of increased economic uncertainty, rose between 0.5% and 2.7%.

“Investors are going to be needing stocks that can weather a lower growth path because if we don’t get another round of fiscal stimulus, there’s not going to be a lot more we can do to continue boosting the economic recovery,” said Max Gokhman, capital markets strategist at Pacific Life Fund Advisors.

Waning hopes of more fiscal stimulus, signs of a faltering business recovery and a sell-off in technology-related names have weighed on U.S. stocks this month.

The S&P 500 briefly fell 10% below its intraday record high hit on Sept. 2. If the benchmark index closes at that level, it will enter correction territory.

Dow constituents, considered a barometer of economic confidence, lagged the S&P 500 on Thursday as data showed 870,000 Americans applied for jobless benefits in the week ended Sept. 19, up from 866,000 in the previous week.

Job cuts have spread to industries such as financial services and technology that were not initially impacted by the mandated business closures in mid-March because of insufficient demand.

At 12:32 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.39%, the S&P 500 was up 0.54% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.81%.

The CBOE volatility index, which is hovering near two-week highs, is expected to climb in the run up to the quarter end next week.

“The key is the VIX index, which has not yet reached levels that would suggest a continued strong move to the downside,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“So you might get a day of bargain hunting followed by a day of selling, but as the last days of September come into place, we should begin to see some sort of window dressing by institutions.”

Homebuilders climbed 0.8% as sales of new single-family homes increased to their highest level in nearly 14 years last month.

Nikola Corp, which is set for its biggest weekly decline ever, shed another 4.3% as Wedbush downgraded the stock to “underperform”.

Accenture Plc fell 6.4% after the IT consulting firm forecast current-quarter revenue below expectations, while, U.S.-listed shares of Canadian security software firm BlackBerry Ltd jumped 5% after it posted a surprise rise in quarterly revenue.

Declining issues nearly matched advancers on the NYSE and the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded seven new highs and 116 new lows. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Etobicoke pub temporarily closes after employee tests positive – CityNews Toronto



An employee at Firkin on the Bay has tested positive for COVID-19.

The pub is located at 68 Marine Parade Drive near the Lake Shore in Etobicoke.

The pub has temporarily shut it’s doors and in a letter to customers say they are taking necessary steps to ensure that they can reopen when it’s “absolutely safe to do so.”

The employee last worked at the location on September 20 from 10:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Management at the pub say they contacted Toronto Public Health and shared contract tracing details. As per public health officials guidance all employees at the location have gone into self-isolation and will undergo testing before being able to return to work.

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Johnson & Johnson begins final phase of single-shot COVID-19 vaccine study –



Johnson & Johnson is beginning a huge final study to try to prove if a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine can protect against the coronavirus.

The study starting Wednesday will be one of the world’s largest coronavirus vaccine studies so far, testing the shot in 60,000 volunteers in the United States, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

In August, Canada signed a deal with a subsidiary of New Jersey-based drug conglomerate Johnson & Johnson to secure up to 38 million doses of the company’s potential vaccine. 

A handful of other vaccines in the U.S. — including shots made by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. — and some in other countries are already in final-stage testing. Hopes are high that answers about at least one candidate being tested in the U.S. could come by year’s end, maybe sooner.

However, U.S. health officials insist the race for a vaccine isn’t cutting corners.

“We want to do everything we can without sacrificing safety or efficacy — we’re not going to do that — to make sure that we end up with vaccines that are going to save lives,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told reporters.

But many vaccine specialists question whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will stick to that goal under intense pressure from the current U.S. administration. President Donald Trump has consistently presented a faster timeline for a new vaccine than experts say is adequate to fully test the candidates.

In August, Canada signed a deal with Johnson & Johnson to secure up to 38 million doses of the company’s potential vaccine. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

“We feel cautiously optimistic that we will be able to have a safe and effective vaccine, although there is never a guarantee of that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at NIH, told a Senate committee on Wednesday.

But Trump is pushing for a faster timeline than many experts say is adequate to fully test the candidates. On Wednesday, he tweeted a link to news about the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine study and said the FDA “must move quickly.”

“President Trump is still trying to sabotage the work of our scientists and public health experts for his own political ends,” Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, said before ticking off examples of pressure on the FDA.

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn pledged that career scientists, not politicians, will decide whether any coronavirus vaccine meets clearly stated standards that it works and is safe.

“Science will guide our decisions. FDA will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that,” Hahn said. “I will put the interest of the American people above anything else.”

As for the testing of vaccine candidates, Fauci said: “There is no cutting corners.”

‘Build public confidence’ 

Meanwhile, testing of still another experimental vaccine, made by AstraZeneca, remains on hold in the U.S. as officials examine a safety question, even though studies have resumed in other countries.

Earlier this week, Vice-President Mike Pence urged state governors to “do your part to build public confidence that it will be a safe and effective vaccine.”

Fauci added in the call to governors that he is confident in “a tried-and-true process” that has checks and balances built in, including an independent board evaluating the progress of each vaccine trial, as well as “the integrity of the FDA.”

A recording of the call was provided to The Associated Press.

Even if the FDA were to allow emergency use of a vaccine by year’s end, supplies would be limited and given first to vulnerable groups, such as health workers. Most Americans aren’t likely to receive a vaccine until sometime next year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said he is confident in ‘a tried-and-true process’ for vaccine research that has checks and balances built in. (Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants states to get ready now to roll out vaccinations, which will present enormous logistical challenges. On Wednesday, the CDC was set to announce distribution of $200 million US in congressionally approved funds to help begin setting up operations.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the COVID-19 vaccine campaign will build on longstanding co-operation between the federal government and the states on immunizations.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is made with slightly different technology than others in late-stage testing, modelled on an Ebola vaccine the company created.

Unlike the three other vaccines that started late-stage testing in the U.S., it requires only one shot, not two. Despite a later start to testing than some of its competitors, Dr. Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientific officer, told reporters that the study was large enough to yield answers possibly by early next year.

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