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The year of green energy investment – Medicine Hat News

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By COLLIN GALLANT on December 26, 2019.

In early December, Suncor announced it was investing in a $300-million wind farm near Bow Island, capping off a year that saw $2 billion in renewable energy investment in the region.
Pictured: An artists rendering that imagines the visual impact of the construction oft he Suncor Forty Mile Wind power facility.–submitted photo Suncor The view is facing north west from Highway No. 885 near the Forty Mile Reservoir.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

With one complete and nine other major green power projects ready to roll, renewable energy development and its $2 billion investment in Southeast Alberta is the business story of the year in Southeast Alberta for 2019.

Most of that activity will roll out over the next two years, still it was the most encouraging story over what’s been a rocky 12 months for the local economy.

The shallow natural gas sector continued to shudder as the province announced special tax relief on unprofitable wells. In a landmark shift, the City of Medicine Hat announced it would close about 80 per cent of its production to stem loses.

Business owners gained a spring in their step with the election of the United Conservatives in the April provincial Election. But consumer confidence across the province dipped late in the year as high unemployment lingered.

In another jarring hit for local outlook, Aurora Cannabis announced it would delay fully commissioning its massive marijuana growing facility until 2021.

Other efforts moved forward, but little went as smoothly as Capital Power’s building its $350-million wind farm near Bow Island. That project went online in early December after employing more than 300 workers at its height, filling hotels and restaurants this past year.

Estimates vary about what portion construction budgets are spent locally, but even at the lowest estimate, the influx of cash would rival the annual payroll of CFB Suffield.

And construction budgets totalling another $1.6 billion in total construction has been approved for the next two years throughout Southeast Alberta.

The year was bookended by major companies announcing they would proceed with substantial projects.

Suncor, Berkshire Hathaway Energy Canada, Power Corp., European utility giants Innogy and EDF all gave regional projects the greenlight.

Using figures the Lethbridge-based Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership, estimates for annual local impact from the area wind projects alone at $12.5 million per year in new local taxes and $3.1 million paid to landowners for land lease agreements.

Building figures

A commercial construction boom wound to a close in the city’s south end, with new commercial plazas, a car dealership and seniors’ living complex,

In the vicinity, the Save-On-Foods grocery store opened after a year-long delay and replaced the former Walmart Supercentre that was demolished after 10 years on the market.

Municipal commercial land sales soared as the city development office marketed and sold a half dozen properties considered excess to municipal needs. Major projects could be permitted in 2020, including a downtown hotel, a multi-family housing project on the site of the Medicine Hat Arena, a condo complex in Connaught,

Commercial land sales roared, while the residential sector snored.

Building permits to November, show only 19 new home permits were issued to that point, down from 46 in 2018, and a recent high of 100 in 2015.

At the same time, Calgary-based developer Enclave ventures announced it and local partners would build the Coulee Ridge Community on land in the city’s southwest.

The Alberta Advantage

The big win for the United Conservatives was enthusiastically received by the broad business community. The new government announced changes to corporate income tax, labour standards on farms, youth minimum wage and promises to revisits the entire labour code next year.

Mixed year for majors

Cancarb rang in 2019 by announcing a $40-million expansion to their production of rubber additive carbon black, but Methanex moved ahead with major expansion in Louisiana rather than a proposal to twin the local methanol facility.

Aurora announced it would slow down commissioning its massive greenhouse, waiting to bring it fully on line until consumer demand warranted, possibly in 2021.

Folium Bioscience announced its intention to build a local processing plant for hemp derivatives in early January.

Hut 8 Cryptocurrency increased the size of a electricity buy from the city utility to power its data-processing centre in the city’s northwest.

Agriculture

Big Marble Greenhouse, a traditional vegetable outfit, announced it planned to add 10 acres to its site south of the city near Highway No. 3.

In wider agriculture farmers and ranchers were vexed with dry spring and summer, then an early damaging frost and freezing conditions – events across the prairies that earned separate spots on Environment Canada’s top-10 weather stories of 2019.

That’s on top of trade tension with China over canola, while other specialty crop growers were hampered.

Lantic Sugar announced in early November that about half the sugar beet crop would be left in the ground.

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U.S. stocks rebound following rout, bond yields dip

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U.S. shares rebounded on Thursday after falling for three consecutive days and benchmark Treasury yields dipped, as investors snapped up technology stocks and shrugged off worries about rising prices, for now.

After posting their biggest slump in at least 11 weeks on Wednesday, U.S. shares bounced back as cash-flush investors looked past concerns that accelerating inflation may prompt quicker interest rate hikes, and deployed their funds once more.

So intent were investors on leaving inflation worries aside that financial markets barely responded to Thursday’s data, which showed U.S. producer prices posting their biggest annual gain since 2010 in April.

“It’s rebound Thursday,” said John Augustine, chief investment officer at Huntington Private Bank, which manages $20 billion. “Given the money on the sidelines, investors are going to be coming back in.”

Still, Augustine said investors should re-deploy their funds in a measured way because “inflation concerns are not going away”.

By midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had added 1.4%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite narrowed earlier gains to be up 1.3% and 0.9%, respectively.

The MSCI world equity index, which includes 50 countries, also bounced slightly, gaining 0.2%.

U.S. stocks had tumbled earlier this week after data showed U.S. consumer prices unexpectedly jumped by the most in almost 12 years in April.

Some investors now worry that quickening price pressures could lead the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy sooner than expected, and reduce its supply of cheap money that has been propelling financial markets higher.

For now, however, inflation woes took a backseat.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields, which had spiked 7 basis points overnight in the biggest daily rise in two months, edged down by more than 3 basis points to 1.6625% as investors took a breather.

Benchmark two-year Treasury yields also pulled back to 0.1589%.

Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar was steady at 90.727, holding gains eked out on Wednesday when expectations of rate hikes burnished the currency’s appeal.

A firm dollar capped gains in the euro, which edged up 0.1% to $1.20875. [USD/]

The pull-back in Treasury yields helped gold to recoup some of Wednesday’s losses, when the jump in bond yields dampened the allure of non-yielding bullion. Spot gold climbed 0.7% off a one-week low to $1,825.61 per ounce.

A recent rally in oil prices also paused on Thursday as investors turned their attention to the coronavirus crisis in India, and as a key U.S. fuel pipeline resumed operations.

Brent crude slumped 3.5% to $66.93 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude lost 3.8% to $63.53 a barrel.

Among cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, which tumbled 13% overnight when Elon Musk said Tesla would stop accepting it as payment because of its high energy use, fell below $50,000 again on Thursday following reports that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating crypto exchange Binance.

By midday, bitcoin had dropped 2.2% to $48.314.

(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing; additional reporting by Tom Wilson and Marc Jones in London; Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing Nick Macfie, Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman)

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Dogecoin dropped after Elon Musk calls it a ‘hustle’ on ‘SNL’ show

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By Alden Bentley and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The value of dogecoin dropped sharply in early U.S. hours on Sunday, after Tesla chief and cryptocurrency supporter Elon Musk called it a ‘hustle’ during his guest-host spot on the “Saturday Night Live” comedy sketch TV show.

Dogecoin was quoted as low as $0.47 on crypto exchange Binance, down 28% from levels around $0.65 before the show.

The billionaire Tesla Inc chief executive hosted the show at 11:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday (0330 GMT on Sunday).

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts had for days been eager to see what he would say, after his tweets this year turned the once-obscure digital currency into a speculator’s dream.

Asked ‘what is dogecoin’, Musk replied, “It’s the future of currency. It’s an unstoppable financial vehicle that’s going to take over the world.”

When a show cast member Michael Che countered, “So, it’s a hustle?”, Musk replied, “Yeah, it’s a hustle.” And laughed.

Musk is the rare business mogul to have been asked to host the venerable comedy TV show. The timing puts Musk back in the spotlight just as Tesla’s stock is losing steam following last year’s monster rally.

The unconventional CEO has posted numerous comments about cryptocurrencies on Twitter and criticized regular old cash for having negative real interest rates.

“Only a fool wouldn’t look elsewhere,” he said in February.

His cryptic tweets “Doge” and “Dogecoin is the people’s crypto” that month kicked off a rally in dogecoin – created as a parody on the more mainstream bitcoin and ethereum.

On Thursday, Musk tweeted: “Cryptocurrency is promising, but please invest with caution!” with a video clip attached in which he said, “it should be considered speculation at this point. And so, you know, don’t don’t go too far in the crypto speculation …”

But he also said, in the video, that cryptocurrency has a “good chance” of becoming what he called “the future currency of the Earth.”

On crypto data tracker CoinGecko.com, dogecoin has jumped more than 800% over the last month and is now the fourth-largest digital currency, with a market capitalization of $73 billion. It hit a record high Thursday above $0.73.

It has overtaken more widely used cryptocurrencies such as litecoin and tether.

Tesla said in February it bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and would soon accept it as a form of payment for its electric cars, a large stride toward mainstream acceptance that sent bitcoin soaring to a record high of nearly $62,000.

Tesla shares closed 1.3% higher at $672.37 on Friday.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Alden Bentley in New York, and Noel Randewich and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco Additional reporting by Joe White and Vidya RanganathanEditing by Matthew Lewis & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Wealthsimple hits $4 billion valuation on funding from Ryan Reynolds, Drake

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Wealthsimple

(Reuters) -Wealthsimple said on Monday it has raised C$750 million ($610.40 million) in its latest funding round, which more than doubled the Canadian fintech company‘s valuation to C$5 billion.

The latest funding round included participation from celebrities Drake, Michael Fox and Ryan Reynolds, according to the company.

The Toronto-based company that has helped make stock trading, peer-to-peer money transfers and tax filing easily accessible, said it will use the amount raised to further expand its market position, product suite and team.

The latest funding round, led by venture capital firms Meritech and Greylock, also includes investments from iNovia, Sagard, TSV and Redpoint.

The funding consists of C$250 million primary fundraising by Wealthsimple and a C$500 million secondary offering by holding company Power Corp of Canada, its largest shareholder.

Wealthsimple said it has seen rapid growth in the past 14 months as Canadians took an interest in stock trading during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, the company said it plans to grow revenue by adding premium features for its clients.

($1 = 1.2288 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews and Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Shounak Dasgupta)

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