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Warren Buffett looks to Japan, takes 5% stakes in five trading companies

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett walks through the exhibit hall as shareholders gather to hear from the billionaire investor at Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha

(Reuters) – Berkshire Hathaway Inc (N:) said it has acquired slightly more than 5% of the shares in five large Japanese companies, marking a departure for Chairman Warren Buffett as he looks outside the United States to bolster his conglomerate.

In a statement on Sunday, Buffett’s 90th birthday, Berkshire said it acquired its stakes in Itochu Corp (T:), Marubeni Corp (T:), Mitsubishi Corp (T:), Mitsui & Co (T:) and Sumitomo Corp (T:) over approximately 12 months.

Berkshire said it intends to hold the investments for the long term, and may boost its stakes to 9.9%. A Berkshire insurance business, National Indemnity Co, is holding the shares.

“I am delighted to have Berkshire Hathaway participate in the future of Japan,” Buffett said in a statement. “The five major trading companies have many joint ventures throughout the world and are likely to have more…. I hope that in the future there may be opportunities of mutual benefit.”

The Japanese investments will help Buffett reduce his Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate’s dependence on the U.S. economy, which last quarter suffered its deepest contraction in at least 73 years as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Many of Berkshire’s own operating businesses have struggled, and Berkshire this month took a $9.8 billion writedown on its Precision Castparts aircraft parts business.

Berkshire owns more than 90 businesses including the BNSF railroad and Geico car insurer outright.

It also invests in dozens of companies including Apple Inc (O:), with a roughly $125 billion stake based on its holdings as of June 30, as well as American Express Co (N:), Bank of America Corp (N:) and Coca-Cola Co (N:).

Most of Berkshire’s operating businesses are American, though it has acquired a handful of foreign companies including Israel’s IMC International Metalworking and German motorcycle apparel retailer Detlev Louis.

Additional investments in Japan could also help Buffett reduce Berkshire’s cash stake, which ended June at a record $146.6 billion

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Source: Investing.com

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London officials to Queen's Park: Tighten rules on social gatherings here – London Free Press (Blogs)

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Article content continued

Premier Doug Ford indicated his willingness to grant the request by London officials.

He said his cabinet will discuss requests from mayors and medical officials from other areas of the province to extend restrictions.

“We’re going to be rolling (it) out to other areas across the province from the request of the mayors,” Ford said in Ottawa. “I listen to the medical experts. I’ll base this on the health and science.”

He also promised that his plan to address a possible second wave this fall will be released by the province next week.

Under the province’s enhanced restrictions, the fine for hosting a rule-breaking party starts at $10,000.

Mackie is anticipating the province will expand its gathering size restrictions to include the London-area in time for the weekend.

If the province doesn’t act immediately, the health unit is not ruling out issuing an order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to restrict private gathering sizes, but the move would take up to a week to come into effect, Mackie said.

The decision to issue a Section 22 order would come Monday or Tuesday of next week if the province’s restrictions are not in place, Mackie said.

The health unit has reported 47 new COVID-19 cases, including 39 among Western students, in the last week and declared three outbreaks.

One outbreak is connected to post-secondary students and the downtown party scene, including the bar Lost Love. The second outbreak is linked to a large student party this past weekend that drew “dozens,” Mackie said. The third involved staff at the Walmart store in Hyde Park.

None of the 39 Western students who tested positive have required hospitalization, Mackie said.

The health unit reported 13 new cases Friday, bringing the total number of new cases in the area to 24 over the past two days — nearly the same number reported in the entire first two weeks of September.

For weeks, the daily growth in new London-area cases had held steady at about one to two each day.

The Thursday-Friday case increases are the biggest two-day jump since April 18 and 19, when the health unit reported 17 new cases each day.

“Depending on how we fare over the weekend, this could become the worst stretch of cases in London-Middlesex since the pandemic’s onset,” Mayor Ed Holder said Friday.

“Please wear a mask, physically distance, avoid large crowds. . . . We can do this, we just need more of us to do a little better.”

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Canadian police charged a Tesla owner for sleeping while driving – Engadget

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Police in Canada say they recently charged a Tesla Model S owner with driving dangerously for sleeping at his car’s wheel. In July, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) say they responded to a speeding complaint on Highway 2 near Ponoka — a town in Alberta, south of the province’s capital of Edmonton. Those who saw the car report it was traveling faster than 140 kilometers per hour (86MPH), with the front seats “completely reclined,” and both the driver and passenger seemingly asleep. When a police officer found the 2019 Model S and turned on their emergency lights, the vehicle accelerated to 150 kilometers per hour (about 93MPH) before it eventually stopped.

Police initially charged the driver, a 20-year-old man from the province of British Columbia, with speeding and handed him a 24-hour license suspension for driving while fatigued. He was also later charged with dangerous driving and has a court date in December.

It’s unclear how the Model S driver misused Autopilot in the way that they did. The incident occurred before Tesla updated the system to give it the ability to detect speed limit signs using a vehicle’s cameras. However, as The Verge notes, Tesla has said Autopilot will only work when it detects that the driver has their hands on the steering wheel. If that’s not the case, the car will try to get the driver’s attention with visual and audio warnings before disabling Autopilot.

But the fact that drivers can disengage from Autopilot is something that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US has criticized Tesla over repeatedly. In March, the agency published a report that said a Model 3 driver’s overreliance on the system — in a situation it wasn’t designed to handle — led to a deadly crash in Delray Beach, Florida in 2019.

In this latest incident, the RCMP similarly warned against overlying on Autopilot. “Although manufacturers of new vehicles have built in safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of the new safety systems in vehicles, those systems are just that — supplemental safety systems,” said Superintendent Gary Graham of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services. “They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving.”

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Canadian retail sales slow after surpassing pandemic losses – BNN

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Gains for Canadian retailers slowed sharply in July and August, suggesting pent-up demand from prior months has been largely extinguished.

Sales grew 0.6 per cent in July, versus 23 per cent in June and 21 per cent in May, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. Excluding vehicles, receipts unexpectedly dropped 0.4 per cent, versus a forecast gain of 0.5 per cent. Preliminary estimates from the agency show receipts climbed 1.1 per cent in August, suggesting the weaker trend will continue.

The report reinforces warnings that the pace of the recovery will slow in the second half of the year, after a strong V-shaped rebound through the early summer.

“All in all, the numbers imply that retail activity is normalizing after the whipsaw of a huge downturn and recovery,” said Scotiabank economist Brett House in a note.

Core retail sales, or those excluding vehicles and gasoline, dropped 1.2 per cent.

Still, the rebound has been impressive. In July, retail sales were up 2.7 per cent compared with year earlier levels.

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