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TSX falls on dour jobless data, vaccine rollout delays

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(Reuters) – Canada‘s main stock index fell on Thursday as a jump in monthly jobless claims raised concerns over the country’s economic recovery, while delays in rollouts of coronavirus vaccines also hit sentiment.

* Canada lost 231,200 jobs in January, the largest decrease since May last year, led by declines in the trade, transportation and utilities and leisure and hospitality sectors, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed.

* At 9:41 a.m. ET (14:41 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 70.05 points, or 0.38%, at 18,304.73.

* Canada‘s COVID-19 vaccination campaign started on the same day in December as the United States, but it now lags dozens of countries, including its southern neighbor.

* The energy sector climbed 0.3% as U.S. crude prices were up 0.5% a barrel, while Brent crude added 0.2%.

* The financials sector slipped 0.3%. The industrials sector fell 0.8%.

* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.3% as gold futures rose 0.6% to $1,780.8 an ounce.

* On the TSX, 67 issues were higher, while 149 issues declined for a 2.22-to-1 ratio to the downside, with 28.62 million shares traded.

* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Crescent Point Energy, which jumped 13.4%, and Aphria Inc, which rose 4.8%.

* Canfor Corp fell 4.1%, the most on the TSX, while the second-biggest decliner was Ballard Power, down 3.9%.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Manulife Financial, down 0.8%; Purpose Bitcoin ETF, which was flat, and Fortis Inc, down 0.7%.

* The TSX posted eight new 52-week highs and no new lows.

* Across all Canadian issues there were 29 new 52-week highs and eight new lows, with total volume of 63.38 million shares.

 

(Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. & Aditya Soni)

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Saskatoon economy continues to recover from COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) says the tide is turning for city businesses, roughly one year after the arrival of COVID-19 in the province.

On Thursday, the business group released its latest Saskatoon Economic Recovery Tracker Report, which estimates the city’s economy has recovered to 58.5 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

SREDA CEO Alex Fallon says passing the halfway point in the province’s economic recovery is a significant milestone.

“Overall, we’re happy where we’re at because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Fallon.

“Being halfway over that recovery is, I think, a good psychological benefit and impact.”

According to the report, different sectors of the economy are at very different stages of recovery.

While retail sales and manufacturing have completely rebounded at 100 per cent of their levels last year, employment is down by 15,900 jobs and hotel stays are only at 52.9 per cent recovered.

Fallon said small businesses continue to be especially hard hit by COVID-19.

“The longer this goes on, the more difficult it is for them,” he said. 

“But on the positive side, what we’re starting to see is the overall economy starting to recover. And that bodes well for small businesses, because hopefully more customers will be coming back to them.”

The CEO said governments need to be careful while crafting their re-opening plans. 

“It’ll be important that when the economy does continue to open more, we don’t have to go back into some sort of shutdown because that could be hard for companies to sustain,” he said.

“If people continue to have confidence in this recovery, that’s a good thing. And if we have to go down into a bunch of further lockdowns, then that has a negative impact on confidence.” 

The recovery tracker report used numbers from Statistics Canada, the Conference Board of Canada, the International Monetary Fund and industry associations to draft the report.

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Exclusive: El Salvador seeks IMF funding, sees 'golden opportunity' for economy, says finance minister – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Anthony Esposito and Nelson Renteria

(Reuters) – El Salvador is talking to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about securing some $1.3 billion in financing and sees a “golden opportunity” to revitalize its economy after the ruling party’s big win in legislative elections, a top government official said.

Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya told Reuters in an interview that El Salvador wants to get a 36-month extended fund facility approved by the IMF, similar to the program announced this week for fellow Central American country Costa Rica.

“It will help us leverage the budgetary gaps for 2021, 2022 and 2023” and help lower the highs costs associated with El Salvador’s debt, Zelaya said.

El Salvador sovereign dollar bonds jumped on Tuesday after President Nayib Bukele, declared a landslide win in Sunday’s voting, saying his party and its allies had secured the biggest majority in the country’s history.

“What (the ruling) New Ideas party and President Bukele achieved on Sunday is truly a golden opportunity for El Salvador’s economy to take off,” said Zelaya.

Fitch Ratings said the legislative election result ends political gridlock that had hindered policy implementation and dented El Salvador’s ability to tap external funding.

That gridlock led to an over-reliance on domestic market borrowing to meet high government funding needs, pushing borrowing costs higher, the ratings agency said.

Zelaya said financing from international multilateral lenders should make El Salvador’s debt and public spending sustainable. For 2021 “we need financing of around $2 billion, including the short-term debt management plan,” he added.

Integral reform of El Salvador’s pension system was needed so pensions do not put pressure on government finances, Zelaya said.

While no deal has been struck, the IMF could potentially disburse up to $450 million this year, on top of prior commitments of $250 million from the Inter-American Development Bank, $200 million from the World Bank and $600 million from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, he said.

Asked when the deal with the IMF might be finalized, Zelaya said it was still too early to say.

“We’re working to reach an agreement. It takes two.”

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito in Mexico City and Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; editing by Grant McCool)

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Pandemic Toll on Toronto's Visitor Economy Surpasses $8 Billion – Canada NewsWire

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Analysis by Destination Toronto marks one full year of the pandemic’s impact

TORONTO, March 4, 2021 /CNW/ – The global pandemic, including the associated travel restrictions and lockdowns over the past 12 months, have resulted in $8.35 billion in lost economic activity from visitor spending in Toronto. When the Greater Toronto region is included, the economic losses grow to more than $14 billion. The new analysis by Destination Toronto demonstrates the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the city’s tourism and hospitality sector and the broader economy that benefits from visitor spending.

The analysis stems from Destination Toronto’s Visitor Economy Study released in late 2019. Produced by Tourism Economics and done in partnership with the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the study found that Toronto’s 27.5 million visitors generate an economic impact of $10.3 billion and support 70,000 jobs (based on 2018 data) in the community.

“When we released the Visitor Economy Study in late 2019, it showed the enormous impact of visitor spending on our local economy, and how that economic activity supports businesses and benefits all of us in city, the province and the country,” said Scott Beck, President & CEO of Destination Toronto. “Little did we know that the same study would soon be used to show the enormity of the impact of the pandemic on the people and businesses that make up the visitor economy.”

The new analysis highlights the hardest hit sectors in the industry impacted by reduced visitor spending including: retail ($1.67 billion in lost economic activity), food and beverage ($1.3 billion), accommodations ($1.2 billion) and attractions and entertainment ($707 million). In addition, reduced visitor spending resulted in $1.44 billion in unrealized tax revenue for all three levels of government ($711 million, provincial; $528 million, federal; and $205 million, municipal). 

“We are working non-stop to get through this pandemic so that we can safely restart and reopen our city. Prior to the pandemic, Toronto was welcoming millions of people from the around the world who were eager to see and experience our city. One of the hardest hit areas during the pandemic has been the hospitality and tourism sector but I am absolutely confident that this sector will come back strong with more jobs than ever before,” said Mayor John Tory. “I am determined to work with Destination Toronto and businesses across the city to attract visitors and ensure all the success we had before COVID-19 continues when these tough times are over.”

One of the sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry devastated by the pandemic is the meetings and events industry. Destination Toronto tracked 463 conferences and events that have cancelled or postponed since the start of the pandemic. The resulting cancellations resulted in $833 million in losses in the meetings and events sector, alone.

“Simply stated, 380,000 attendees didn’t come to Toronto over the past year. As a result, they didn’t stay in hotels or visit attractions, didn’t spend money in our retail shops, or eat in our restaurants,” said Beck. “Prior to the pandemic, Toronto had been riding a wave of momentum and experienced annual growth in visitor spending for over a decade. The foundation of our past success, rooted in the quality of our city’s experience, gives us confidence in the inevitable recovery of our industry.”

ABOUT DESTINATION TORONTO

Toronto’s visitor economy is a vital economic engine for the city, generating more than $10 billion in economic activity and supporting 70,000 jobs in 2019. Destination Toronto’s mandate is to reflect the breadth and diversity of Toronto’s people, places and culture to inspire residents and visitors to meet, visit and explore our city. Operating in partnership with the City of Toronto, the Greater Toronto Hotel Association and the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Destination Toronto markets and promotes the city to global travellers, attracts and supports major meetings and events, and supports local businesses to maximize the opportunities of visitor spending. For more information please visit DestinationToronto.com.

Destination Toronto on Social

@destinationtoronto

@destination_toronto

@SeeTorontoNow

SOURCE Destination Toronto

For further information: MEDIA CONTACT: Matt McNama, Corporate Communications Manager, Destination Toronto, 416-994-2258, [email protected]

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