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Victoria Day marks subdued start to cottage season during COVID-19: officials – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Life looks to stay fairly quiet in Canada’s cottage country this Victoria Day long weekend.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the traditional influx of urbanites in many resort towns for the first big cottage weekend of the year, with some provinces barring pilgrimages to the lake altogether.

Local officials say seasonal visitors have for the most part respected precautions to keep year-round residents safe, but recognize the restrictions on May Two-Four festivities could forbore a tough summer for businesses that depend on tourism to keep their doors open.

In the District of Sechelt, about 50 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, beaches would typically be bustling with revellers ready to light up the skies with fireworks to ring in the start of cottage season, says Mayor Darnelda Siegers.

But come Monday, Siegers expects both the sands and skies to be clear, perhaps with the exception of rain.

“There won’t be any fireworks on the Sunshine Coast,” Siegers said, referring to the coastal region on British Columbia’s southern mainland.

Siegers said the district has enlisted “community ambassadors” to patrol popular spots over the weekend to ensure people are following physical distancing policies.

She’s echoed the urgings of B.C. authorities to avoid non-essential travel. “Now is not the time to travel for tourism or recreation,” the province’s website reads.

While ferries are operating at 50-per-cent passenger capacity, Siegers said that hasn’t stopped a slow trickle of visitors from coming to Sechelt since Easter weekend.

The people have for the most part been responsible about sticking to their properties and minimizing contact with locals, Siegers said.

Roughly half of Sechelt’s full-time residents are seniors, she said, putting them at higher risk of COVID-19 complications if city dwellers bring the novel coronavirus with them to the cottage.

Still, she recognizes the frustrations of cottage owners who have been denied access to their properties, for which they pay taxes.

Business owners are also having a rough go, said Siegers.

“It’s a tough place to be in for everybody,” she said. “None of us know what this is going to look like going forward.”

Similar concerns have turned cottage country into tricky territory for some lawmakers as the COVID-19 outbreak has pitted the rights of property holders against concerns about overwhelming rural health-care systems.

For example, New Brunswick reopened campgrounds and other recreational businesses earlier this week, drawing ire from out-of-province cottagers who remain barred from crossing the border.

Alberta is also allowing “responsible travel” to campgrounds, summer homes, cabins and cottages within the province, prompting local officials in two popular Rocky Mountain destinations to take action to keep people safe.

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen tweeted a video last Monday urging visitors to hold off until June to give the town time to implement proper public health protocols.

“Our message will soon change from ‘stay home and stay safe’ to ‘help keep Banff safe,”’ Sorensen said.

In Canmore, about 100 kilometres west of Calgary, Mayor John Borrowman warned that the “allure of a long weekend” could draw in visitors, and the town must prepare accordingly.

Borrowman said Thursday that officials are considering making the town’s main drag pedestrian-only so people can stroll through downtown while maintaining a two-metre distance from others. He said the temporary measure would coincide with the reopening of campgrounds on June 1.

“We are in this together,” Borrowman said in a statement on the town’s website. “Reopening is a positive step to recovery, but we all need to continue to do our part to stop the spread.”

Meanwhile, about 230 kilometres north of Toronto, Muskoka Lakes Mayor Phil Harding said traffic on the roads and on the water has picked up, but there’s nowhere near the “beehive of activity” the town typically sees this time of year.

Seasonal residents comprise roughly 80 per cent of the town’s population, said Harding. While some have come to check in on their boats and homes, Harding said most part-timers haven’t strayed from their properties, and have brought their own groceries to prevent strain on local resources.

Harding said he hasn’t seen many tourists, noting that they’d be hard pressed to keep themselves busy with so many businesses shut down.

While communal gatherings remain prohibited, Harding said residents are welcome to ring in Victoria Day by sparking up fireworks on their own property since Ontario lifted its regional fire ban Friday.

The COVID-19 restrictions may make for more muted celebrations to mark the unofficial start to the summer, said Harding, but cottage country isn’t a retreat from the risks of the novel coronavirus.

“We need to really treat this as businesses unusual,” Harding said. “We all need to isolate wherever we are.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2020.

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At midday: TSX flat following release of dismal trade data – The Globe and Mail

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Canada’s main stock index was flat on Thursday with bleak trade data for April denting sentiment.

The nation’s exports and imports plunged in April as the coronavirus-fueled lockdowns forced factories and retail stores to shut businesses, Statistics Canada said.

At 11:51 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 1.65 points, or 0.01%, at 15,573.58.

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The energy sector erased early losses and sat 0.1%, despite a slide in oil prices.

The financials sector was up 0.3%. The industrials sector rose 0.2%.

The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 1% as spot gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,706.05 per ounce, recovering from a slide to a near one-month low of $1,688.89 in the last session. U.S. gold futures were up 0.4% at $1,710.90.

Canada posted a trade deficit of $3.25-billion in April as exports fell by nearly 30% to the lowest level in more than 10 years at $32.7-billion. Analysts had forecast exports would be $42.1-billion.

“This dismal report adds to the evidence that the economy contracted sharply in April,” said Ryan Brecht, a senior economist at Action Economics. “However, the reopening of the economy and recovery in energy prices in May suggests that April will mark the bottoming out of activity.”

On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy appears to have peaked, while the Canadian economy seems to have avoided worst-case scenario projections.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes edged lower in choppy trading on Thursday, as a rally fueled by hopes of a post-coronavirus economic recovery fizzled out even with weekly jobless claims dipping below 2 million for the first time since mid-March.

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Still, the Nasdaq 100 became the first U.S. equity index to reclaim its intraday record high, powered by the NYSE FANG+TM index, which includes Facebook Inc, Apple Inc , Amazon.com Inc, Netflix and Alphabet Inc.

Wall Street’s main indexes have recovered sharply from their March lows and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index is now only 2% below its all-time closing high hit in February.

“In this market, you need to be selective and technology continues to be one of our favorite sectors,” said Larry Adam, chief investment officer at Raymond James in Baltimore, Maryland.

“There’s going to be much more reliance on fundamentals … and (technology-related) are the types of companies that have the earnings growth that will be rewarded by the market.”

A report from the Labor Department showed new claims for state unemployment benefits totaled 1.877 million for the week ended May 30, down from 2.126 million in the prior week. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 1.8 million initial claims in the latest week.

Focus will now shift to the closely watched employment report for May, due Friday, which is expected to show the unemployment rate rocketing to 19.8%, a post-World War Two record.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 14.28 points, or 0.05%, at 26,284.17, the S&P 500 was down 7.23 points, or 0.23%, at 3,115.64 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 37.95 points, or 0.39%, at 9,644.96.

American Airlines Group Inc jumped 24.5% after the airline revealed plans to fly more than 55% of its July 2019 domestic capacity and boost its U.S. flight schedule next month.

Jif peanut butter maker J.M. Smucker Co fell 3.8% after the company forecast a decline in full-year sales on weakness in sales to restaurants and schools.

Charles Schwab Corp gained 1.5% after it received an anti-trust approval from the Department of Justice for its purchase of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. Shares of TD Ameritrade jumped 3.5%.

EBay Inc jumped 6.3% after it raised its current-quarter revenue and profit forecast, as people stuck at home ordered more from its platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil prices fell on Thursday on doubts over the ability of top crude producers to agree to extend record output cuts, heightened by worries over a build in U.S. fuel inventories.

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Brent crude futures were down 48 cents, or 1.2%, at $39.31 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped 74 cents, or 2%, to $36.55.

Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the world’s biggest oil producers, want to extend cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) that major producers agreed to in April. But a suggestion by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ current president Algeria to meet on Thursday was delayed amid talks about poor compliance by some producers.

OPEC and allies led by Russia, a group known as OPEC+, could still hold a ministerial video conference this week if Iraq and others which have not fully complied with existing supply cuts agree to boost their adherence, three OPEC+ sources told Reuters.

Reuters

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Gold shrugs as ECB throws more stimulus into markets to fight COVID-19 – Kitco NEWS

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(Kitco News) – The gold market is holding steady above $1,700 but is seeing little reaction as the European Central Bank threw more stimulus into financial markets Thursday.

As expected, following its monetary policy meeting, the ECB announced that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.50% respectively.

However, in an effort to support the European economy, devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ECB said that its pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) will be increased by €600 billion to a total of €1,350 billion.

“In response to the pandemic-related downward revision to inflation over the projection horizon, the PEPP expansion will further ease the general monetary policy stance, supporting funding conditions in the real economy, especially for businesses and households,” the ECB said.

The timeline for the PEPP program will also be extended until at least June 2021.

Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics said that the latest move by the ECB more than meets market expectations.

“It also does enough to justify the view that euro-zone policymakers have got their act together, for now at least, in responding to the coronavirus crisis,” he said.

Along with the emergency spending measures, the central bank said that its regular asset purchase programme (APP) will continue at a monthly pace of €20 billion, together with the purchases under the additional €120 billion temporary envelope until the end of the year.

The ECB also reiterated that its asset purchase programme will run for as long as the committee deems necessary.

The gold market is not seeing much reaction to the new stimulus measures. August gold Futures last traded at $1,711.20 an ounce, up 0.38% on the day.

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U.S. trade gap widens in April masking steep declines in both exports and imports – MarketWatch

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The numbers: The U.S. trade deficit widened to $49.4 billion in April from a revised $42.3 billion in the prior month, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a $49.5 billion shortfall. The wider trade gap masks a significant decline in trade flows from the COVID-19 pandemic.

What happened: Exports fell 20.5% to $151.3 in April. The decline was led by civilian aricraft, crude oil, and autos.

Imports dropped 13% to $200.7 billion. The decline was led by passenger cars, semiconductors and consumer goods including pharmaceutical preparation and apparel.

Exports are down 9.5% year-to-date, while imports are off 10.2%. The U.S. services surplus narrowed $1.3 billion to $22.4 billion.

The trade gap with China widened $9 billion to $26 billion in April.

Big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic has depressed trade flows into and out of the United States, economists said. The wider deficit should depress second-quarter gross domestic product even further. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch are expecting GDP to decline at a 27.2% annual rate in the April-June quarter.

Market reaction: Stocks futures indicated a lower opening on Thursday. Stocks have been on a tear lately. with the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
+0.03%

moving to with 2% of its all-time high.

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