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The close: Stocks fall as worries grow over future Fed moves – The Globe and Mail

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The S&P 500 ended lower on Thursday after weekly jobless claims fell to a near 18-month low, allaying fears of a slowing economic recovery, but also stoking worries the Fed could move sooner than expected to scale back its accommodative policies.

Canada’s TSX also closed with losses, with industrials and consumer staples among the biggest decliners. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 36.52 points to 20,705.27 a day before employment numbers are released for August.

Eight of the 11 major sectors of the TSX lost ground. Staples lost 1.2 per cent as shares of Empire Co. Ltd. lost 3.4 per cent after it reported lower first-quarter profits.

Industrials fell 1.1 per cent as shares of Canada’s two largest railways moved lower. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. decreased 3.9 per cent while Canadian National Railway Co. was down 2.1 per cent.

Offsetting the losses was a 2.4 per cent gain by Air Canada even though U.S. airlines tempered investor expectations about earnings over the next number of months because of COVID-19.

Materials was down even though metals prices rose.

The December gold contract was up US$6.50 at US$1,800.00 an ounce and the December copper contract was up 5.25 cents at US$4.29 a pound.

Technology was the leading sector, gaining nearly one per cent as shares of Lightspeed increased 6.2 per cent in a reversal from Wednesday’s movement.

Energy was also higher as natural gas prices moved above US$5 per mmBTU for the first time in more than seven years.

Shares of Tourmaline Oil Corp. increased 1.9 per cent on the natural gas gains while Suncor Energy Inc. rose 1.4 per cent.

The U.S. Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 35,000 to a seasonally adjusted 310,000 for the week ended Sept. 4, the lowest level since mid-March 2020. That suggested that job growth could be hindered by labor shortages rather than cooling demand for workers.

Microsoft, Apple and Amazon each declined, all three among the stocks weighing most on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 real estate and healthcare indexes were among the poorest performers of 11 sectors, while financials and materials made modest gains.

JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citi Group and Morgan Stanley each rose, tracking a slight rise in benchmark bond yields following the claims data.

“The problem with the market these days is it’s rotating more than it’s moving. Today, because of the jobs claims report, everyone is buying cyclical stocks,” said Jay Hatfield, chief executive of Infrastructure Capital Management in New York. “We see it as a rangebound market, between 4,400 and 4,600 (on the S&P 500).”

Investors have become more worried in recent sessions after a recent monthly jobs report showed a slowdown in U.S. hiring, suggesting the economic recovery may be losing steam faster than expected. Also dragging on sentiment has been uncertainty about when the U.S. Federal Reserve’s will scale back massive measures enacted last year to shield the economy from the coronavirus pandemic.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 147.25 points, or 0.42%, to 34,883.82, the S&P 500 lost 20.44 points, or 0.45%, to 4,493.63 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 38.17 points, or 0.25%, to 15,248.46.

Lululemon Athletica soared after providing a strong annual forecast, as demand for its yoga pants remains strong despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Reports that Beijing slowed down approval for all new online video games sent shares of U.S.-listed gaming stocks Activision Blizzard Inc, Electronic Art Inc, and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc down more than 1%.

Digital Realty slid after the data center REIT announced a public offering of 6.25 million shares.

Oil prices fell to a two-week low as China rolled out a plan to release state oil reserves, the U.S. weekly crude draw was smaller than expected and U.S. Treasuries rallied as investors sought safer assets.

In volatile trade, Brent futures fell $1.15, or 1.6%, to settle at $71.45 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell $1.16, or 1.7%, to $68.14. That was the lowest settlement for both since Aug. 26.

“A tremendous auction in the 30-year bond with the lowest interest rate print since January put a significant scare into the (oil) market in what looks like a flight to safety,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

After falling over $1 a barrel early in the session, both benchmarks turned positive following reports that a ship was stuck in the Suez Canal. The ship was refloated and caused no delays.

Oil held those gains following a U.S. report showing a much bigger-than-expected gasoline draw and on the continued slow return of U.S. production after Hurricane Ida.

But oil futures fell over $1 a barrel again soon after strong demand in the afternoon $24 billion U.S. 30-year bond auction pushed yields down to 1.91%. Investors sold riskier assets like oil and stocks.

Oil was pressured when China’s state reserves administration said it would release crude reserves in phases via public auction to help domestic refiners control costs.

“China tapping their crude oil reserves is huge news and should provide much relief for domestic refiners and chemical companies,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

U.S. crude stockpiles declined by 1.5 million barrels in the week to Sept. 3, according to government data, much less than the 4.6-million barrel draw analysts forecast. [API/S] [EIA/S]

The much bigger-than-expected 7.2 million barrel drop in gasoline inventories provided support for oil prices. Analysts forecast gasoline stocks would decline by just 3.4 million barrels.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes was down 4.3 basis points at 1.297%, after hitting a daily low of 1.287%, its lowest since Sept. 3.

The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was down 5.4 basis points at 1.898% after falling to 1.885%, its lowest since Aug. 31.

Read more: Stocks that saw action Thursday – and why

Reuters, The Canadian Press, Globe staff

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Canada pauses COVID-19 vaccine deliveries as supply outpaces demand – Global News

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Further deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to Canada are on pause because provinces already have more doses than they can currently use.

Canada was to get 95 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna by the end of September, but is about 20 million doses shy of that as of Wednesday.

Read more:
Why did Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines get new names after approval? Experts explain

But Canada is already sitting on a stockpile of 18.7 million doses and doesn’t need any more to fully vaccinate eligible people over the age of 12. That includes 8.5 million doses shipped to provinces and not yet used and 10.2 million in a federal stockpile provinces can turn to if they need it.

As of Wednesday, 80 per cent of eligible Canadians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and another seven per cent have their first shot. At most, Canada would need 11 million doses to finish vaccinating everyone over 12.

As such, all provinces stopped requesting new doses by the end of August, and Canada has told suppliers not to send any more shipments for the time being.

Canadian officials are currently in talks with suppliers and other countries that need vaccines working on plans to donate Canada’s excess doses of Pfizer and Moderna.

Canada has already promised to donate 40 million doses it purchased but cannot use from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and the COVAX vaccine-sharing alliance.


Click to play video: 'B.C. preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccine to 6- to 11-year-olds once approved'



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B.C. preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccine to 6- to 11-year-olds once approved


B.C. preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccine to 6- to 11-year-olds once approved

It has to date shipped just 82,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine directly to Trinidad and Tobago.

Vaccine donations are trickier than they might first sound, because of legal liabilities and vaccine dose expiration issues. Most countries won’t accept doses if the expiration date is under eight weeks, to ensure they can be used in time.

The vaccine contracts with Pfizer and Moderna also did not specifically spell out how excess doses could be donated, while the contracts Canada signed with AstraZeneca and J&J did.

U.S. President Joe Biden called on countries like Canada to do more to help get the rest of the world vaccinated following a virtual vaccine summit at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

Read more:
Pfizer Canada eyeing urgent COVID-19 vaccine approval for children aged 5 to 11

Biden said the U.S. was doubling its donations to more than one billion and said “we need other high-income countries to deliver on their own ambitious vaccine donations and pledges.” He said the goal should be to vaccinate 70 per cent of the world’s population within 12 months.

In a release, the PMO said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined other world leaders in committing to that goal.

The Prime Minister also spoke about Canada’s commitment to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, including through significant financial support for vaccines and donations to countries.

It noted that to date, Canada has contributed more than $2.5 billion to help address the crisis globally, including sharing vaccine doses with the rest of the world.

Trudeau promised in the Liberal election platform that Canada will donate “at least” 200 million doses of vaccine through COVAX by the end of next year.

Currently, 31 per cent of the world’s population is fully vaccinated, but the rollout has been very lopsided. Wealthy countries snapped up the vast majority of available doses, leaving developing nations to wait.


Click to play video: 'Where is Canada heading in its fight against COVID-19?'



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Where is Canada heading in its fight against COVID-19?


Where is Canada heading in its fight against COVID-19?

Africa has only fully vaccinated four per cent of the population, compared with 51 per cent in Europe and 45 per cent in North America.

At least 13 countries are above 70 per cent fully vaccinated. Canada, with 69.5 per cent of the entire population fully vaccinated, is close.

Canada is also preparing to start vaccinating children between five and 11, with Pfizer expected to request authorization for that age group imminently. The company said earlier this week a clinical trial showed the vaccine was safe and produced a robust antibody response in that age group.

The dose for children is one-third the size that given to adults and it’s not clear yet whether Canada could simply draw out smaller doses from each vial of vaccine already shipped.

A spokeswoman for the company said Wednesday that Pfizer was preparing a “different presentation for pediatric use” but would not confirm if that meant none of the doses Canada already has could be repurposed for kids.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Evolution of Canada as a Modern Payments Leader

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With Silicon Valley taking most of the tech headlines from the North American continent, Japan being regularly publicized for its leaps in robotic technologies, and the UAE constantly investing in the latest tech, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many forget about Canada as a leader in the world.

However, just because Canada doesn’t command international headlines doesn’t mean that the country hasn’t proven to be incredibly tech-savvy, especially in the realms of payments and money. As a developed market, Canada has long boasted one of the highest credit card penetration rates in the world, at 83 percent (17 percent higher than the United States).

This is the start of a trend that will likely see Canada become the example of how payments around the world will take place, especially as it’s reported that the country will likely be the first to banish banknotes. Already, over 80 percent of Canadian bank transactions are made digitally, with there being many solutions available to the population. Yet, there’s more to come from the world-leading market in modern payments.

Rapid adoption of innovative cashless payment services

 

Source: Pixabay

While VISA, MasterCard, and American Express still form the foundations of much of Canada’s payments preferences, eWallet and mobile payment solutions have become incredibly prevalent. Both PayPal and Apple Pay boast a strong customer base across the country, with a 2019 survey indicating that over 20 percent of Canadians had the PayPal app, with over 15 percent installing the Apple Pay app.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, due to the influx of these once-termed ‘alternative’ payment methods, new industries have quickly embraced them to appeal to Canadians. This isn’t anywhere more apparent than with the online casino industry, with the very best accepting PayPal as well as Skrill, Neteller, Trustly, and the two card providers. By offering these safe and popular methods, players are happy to try out thousands of online games.

PayPal looks to be positioning itself as the leader of a cashless Canada, and yet it’ll be expanding its offering even further soon. In September 2021, PayPal paid US$2.7 billion to acquire Japanese online payments firm Paidy, which specializes in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and payments without credit cards. This could further enhance its appeal to the Canadian population.

Growing into an ever-more digital space for money

Source: Unsplash

Despite the rate of adoption of the newer or tech-savvy payment methods among customers, many still experience payment friction. It was found that over half of all Canadians have experienced a vendor not accepting their preferred payment method or there being a limit on the amount that can be transferred with any one purchase. This is why PayPal’s entry into BNPL could enhance its scope in Canada.

The BNPL market is tipped to be worth nearly US$4 trillion by the end of this decade, making it a powerhouse option in eCommerce. It will certainly become popular in less-developed markets, where people want more expensive goods than they can afford outright. However, it also has its place in a market like Canada, which will make all tiers of purchase more accessible to all, particularly if the PayPal rollout gains traction.

Another digital area of finance that Canada is seen to be particularly smitten with is that of cryptocurrencies. The government has created a remarkably crypto-friendly regulatory landscape, helping all kinds of coins to know where they stand, appeal to Canadians, and be used across the country. It’s said that around 1.2 million people (3.2 percent of the population) own cryptocurrencies in Canada already.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Canada is tipped to become the first cashless nation in the world, particularly with the adoption rate of eWallets and the embrace of even more modern solutions.

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Chinese builder in debt jam says it will make bond payment – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Joe Mcdonald, The Associated Press


Published Wednesday, September 22, 2021 7:08AM EDT


Last Updated Wednesday, September 22, 2021 7:08AM EDT

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese real estate developer whose struggle to avoid defaulting on billions of dollars of debt has rattled global markets says it will pay interest due Thursday to bondholders in China but gave no sign of plans to pay on a separate bond abroad.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, added to investor anxiety Wednesday by staying silent about whether it might intervene to restructure Evergrande Group’s $310 billion debt.

Evergrande’s struggle to comply with financial restrictions imposed by regulators to curb rising debt in the Chinese economy has prompted fears a default might cause global shockwaves. Economists say Beijing can prevent a Chinese credit crunch but wants to avoid appearing to arrange a bailout while it tries to force other companies to reduce reliance on debt.

Evergrande appears to be trying to buy time for “an orderly default rather than a shocking implosion” by paying bondholders in China on time while skipping payments abroad, said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in a report.

“Averting a default altogether is highly unlikely,” Varathan said.

If regulators get involved, they are likely to focus on protecting families that paid for apartments that are yet to be built, economists say. That would cause bigger losses for banks, construction companies and other creditors.

Evergrande, which ratings agency S&P Global says is the world’s most-indebted real estate developer, said it will make a payment due on a 4 billion yuan ($620 million) bond denominated in Chinese yuan.

A company statement said details were “settled in negotiations outside the market” but gave no indication whether that meant any change in the payment. The bond has a 5.8% interest rate, which would make the normal amount due 232 million yuan ($36 million) for one year.

Evergrande did not say if it would make a separate payment of $83 million due Thursday to holders of a U.S. dollar-denominated bond that matures in March.

Evergrande appears to be favoring Chinese creditors in order to negotiate with a circle of friendly banks and other institutions that hold its debt, said Mizuho’s Varathan. He said that “optimizes relief from creditor action” in China.

A default on a bond in China would trigger a cross-default on a bond abroad but missing a payment abroad doesn’t have the same effect with in China, according Varathan. He said it would be harder to renegotiate with a “diverse and dispersed” investor pool abroad.

China’s main stock market benchmark, the Shanghai Composite Index, closed 0.4% higher following the announcement. Hong Kong financial markets, which have been jolted by Evergrande’s predicament, were closed for a holiday.

Some commentators suggest Evergrande might become China’s “Lehman moment,” referring to the failure of Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers, a forerunner to the 2008 crisis. But economists say the risk of global market contagion is low.

Evergrande has sold billions of dollars of assets to pay down debt since regulators tightened limits on borrowing by China’s real estate industry last year. The company is one of China’s biggest private sector conglomerates, with more than 200,000 employees, 1,300 projects in 280 cities and assets worth 2.3 trillion yuan ($350 billion).

Its billionaire founder, Xu Jiayin, expressed confidence in a letter to employees this week that the company will quickly resolve its debt problems.

Other major developers such as Vanke Co., state-owned Poly Group and Wanda Group have not reported similar problems. But hundreds of smaller developers have shut down since regulators in 2017 started tightening control over fundraising tactics such as selling apartments before construction begins.

The ruling party has declared reducing debt and financial risks a priority since 2018. But total corporate, government and household borrowing rose to nearly 300% of economic output last year from 270% in 2018, unusually high for a middle-income country.

As of June 30, Evergrande reported 2 trillion yuan ($310 billion) of outstanding debts to bondholders, banks, construction contractors and other creditors.

Of that debt, 240 billion yuan ($37.3 billion) was due within a year, nearly triple Evergrande’s 86.8 billion yuan ($13.5 billion) in cash holdings, according to a company financial report.

Beijing allowed the first corporate bond default of the communist era in 2014 in an effort to force borrowers and lenders to be more disciplined. Defaults by private sector borrowers have gradually been allowed to increase, but the government has arranged bailouts for state-owned companies.

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