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What every Canadian investor needs to know today – The Globe and Mail

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Equities

Canada’s main stock index fell in early going Wednesday, hit by a sharp drop in crude prices and a higher-than-forecast reading on inflation. South of the border, key indexes were also weaker at the open with Fed chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress in focus.

At 9:33 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 348.41 points, or 1.81 per cent, at 18,908.88.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 177.68 points, or 0.58 per cent, at the open to 30,352.57.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 30.90 points, or 0.82 per cent, at 3,733.89, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 127.35 points, or 1.15 per cent, to 10,941.95 at the opening bell.

On Wednesday, markets will have a close eye on an appearance by Mr. Powell on Capitol Hill, looking for indications of how aggressive the Fed will be in hiking rates as it looks to temper high inflation. In initial remarks, Mr. Powell said the Fed remains committed to bringing inflation under control.

“Jerome Powell’s semiannual testimony could turn the market mood sour again as the Fed chief is expected to reiterate his strong commitment to fighting inflation even if it means slower economy and a softer jobs market,” Swissquote senior analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya said in an early note.

“Yesterday’s rally in stocks could be another dead cat bounce, and we may see the market painted in red in the following sessions,” she said.

In this country, inflation is front and centre with the release of the May consumer price index figures from Statistics Canada ahead of the start of trading.

The agency says the annual rate of inflation spiked to 7.7 per cent in May, the fastest pace since 1983. Economists had been expecting an increase, but most were looking for a number closer to 7.4 per cent. Statscan says higher gasoline prices were behind much of the increase although price pressures continued to be broad-based.

Economists are increasingly expecting the Bank of Canada to hike rates at its next policy meeting by 75 basis points following a similar move recently by the Fed.

“Inflation was already running well ahead of the Bank of Canada’s April projections prior to today’s release, and is now even further ahead,” CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham said.

“The higher than expected inflation figure will have markets pricing an even greater probability of a 75-basis-point hike in July.”

On the corporate side, Canadian investors got results from Sobeys-parent Empire Co. Ltd. ahead of the start of trading. Empire Company Ltd. reported net earnings of $178.5-million or 68 cents per share in the quarter, compared to $171.9-million or 64 cents per share in the same period last year. The company announced a 10-per-cent increase to its quarterly dividend paid to shareholders, to 16.5 cents per share.

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 fell 1.28 per cent just before midday. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 1.11 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were off 1.76 per cent and 1.58 per cent, respectively.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei finished down 0.37 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 2.56 per cent on weakness in tech stocks.

Commodities

Crude prices fell in early going with an expected move by U.S. President Joe Biden to ease costs for drivers tempering sentiment.

The day range on Brent is US$108.62 to US$114.45. The range on West Texas Intermediate is US$103.20 to US$109.76. Both benchmarks were down more than 4 per cent in the predawn period.

“There is a distinct lack of drivers behind this move, and certainly no headlines to justify it,” OANDA senior analyst Jeffrey Halley said.

“I surmise that President Biden’s expected announcement of a temporary suspension of Federal fuel taxes [on Wednesday] has prompted the selling, and I do note the U.S.-centric WTI contract is leading the charge lower.”

Later in the day, Mr. Biden is expected to call for a temporary suspension of the U.S. federal tax on gasoline, according to a report by Reuters. The move is aimed at addressing high costs for consumers and soaring inflationary pressures.

Later Wednesday, traders will also got the first of two weekly U.S. inventory reports, with new figures from the American Petroleum Institute. More official government figures will follow on Thursday morning.

In other commodities, gold prices slid alongside a firmer U.S. dollar.

Spot gold fell 0.3 per cent to US$1,826.41 per ounce by early Wednesday morning, extending losses to a fourth straight session. U.S. gold futures dropped 0.6 per cent to US$1,827.40.

“Although gold’s interminable range-trading continued overnight, the falls of the past three sessions hint that any upward momentum for the yellow metal is doing an Elvis and is leaving the building,” Mr. Halley said.

“Gold has been grinding lower, even as U.S. yields and the U.S. dollar trade sideways,” Mr. Halley said.

Currencies

The Canadian dollar was weaker, hit by uncertain risk sentiment and lower commodities prices, while its U.S. counterpart advanced against a basket of world currencies.

The day range on the loonie is 76.94 US cents to 77.43 US cents.

“The CAD has softened overnight, with price action driven by the weaker risk backdrop and a slump in energy prices,” Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist with Scotiabank, said. “The CAD retains an unfortunately strong, negative correlation with US equities (-83 per cent by our measure) so the gravitational pull of sliding S&P 500 futures is hard to escape from.”

Canadian investors will get inflation figures ahead of the start of trading with economists expecting to see another spike in price pressures.

On world markets, the U.S. dollar index, which weighs the greenback against a group of currencies, was up 0.33 per cent at 104.8, according to figures from Reuters.

The euro fell 0.4 per cent to US$1.0497.

The yen slid 0.3 per cent to 136.3 per U.S. dollar, having hit 136.71 in early trade, its lowest since October 1998, Reuters reports.

Other commodities-linked currencies were also lower. The Norwegian krone fell 1.3 per cent against the U.S. dollar. The Australian dollar slid 1.1 per cent to US$0.6898 by early Wednesday.

In bonds, the yield on the U.S. 10-year note was lower at 3.222 per cent.

More company news

The Globe’s Susan Krashinsky Robertson reports that Canada’s largest retailer is getting into the increasingly competitive rapid grocery-delivery field through a partnership with San Francisco-based DoorDash Inc. Starting in August, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. will offer customers delivery in roughly 30 minutes or less, beginning in Toronto and Winnipeg before expanding to 10 locations across the country within that month. Within a few years, Loblaw expects to have 40 to 50 PC Express Rapid Delivery locations.

Brookfield Asset Management said on Wednesday it had raised $15-billion for its Brookfield Global Transition Fund, a fund focused on investments in the decarbonization technology space.

Boeing expects supply chain problems to persist almost until the end of 2023, led by labour shortages at mid-tier and smaller suppliers, partly due to the faster-than-expected return of demand, its chief executive said on Wednesday. Boeing said last month that production of its 737 aircraft had been slowed by shortages of a single type of wiring connector, while some of its airline customers had been forced to cancel flights due to a lack of staff in the post-pandemic recovery. “The shift from demand to now supply issues … is remarkable, the speed with which it happened,” Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said at Bloomberg’s Qatar Economic Forum in Doha.

Economic news

(8:30 a.m. ET) Canada’s CPI for May.

(9:30 a.m. ET) U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell testifies to the Senate Banking Committee.

With Reuters and The Canadian Press

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Half of Ontarians support union’s goals in ongoing LCBO strike: poll

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Fewer than one-third of Ontarians say they want the provincial government to intervene to end the 12-day strike at Ontario’s main liquor retailer, while about half are supportive of the striking union’s demands.

That’s according to a new Leger poll that asked if the government should use binding arbitration or legislation to ensure LCBO stores open as soon as possible.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents supported such a move, while 44 per cent opposed it. The poll also asked if respondents support the union’s stated goals, including wage increases and more permanent positions. Just under half, 49 per cent, answered in the affirmative, while 25 per cent said they were not supportive.

Awareness of the strike in Ontario is high, according to the poll, with 89 per cent saying they knew about it, though only 15 per cent reported being personally affected. The Leger poll of 601 residents, conducted last weekend, can’t be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not considered truly random samples.

Approximately 10,000 workers at the LCBO walked off the job on July 5 after negotiations broke down.

The union representing the workers said the sides were headed back to the bargaining table Wednesday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has said the main issue is the province’s alcohol expansion plans that would see ready-to-drink cocktails sold outside LCBO stores — a move it maintains poses an existential threat to the LCBO and could lead to major job losses.

Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit, has said the plan would “mean thousands of lost jobs, fewer hours for the 70 per cent of LCBO retail workers who are casual and struggling to make ends meet, and hundreds of millions in dollars of lost public revenues drained from health care, education and infrastructure.”

The LCBO, a Crown corporation, nets the province $2.5 billion a year.

On Monday, the Ontario government sped up its expansion plan. The 450 stores across Ontario already licensed to sell beer, wine and ciders will be able to start ordering coolers and seltzers on Thursday and sell them as soon as they arrive.

The province has said it does not want to privatize the LCBO, and that the expansion is about giving people more choice and more convenience to buy alcohol.

Stephanie Ross, an associate professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University, said Premier Doug Ford doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to labour, given the high-profile disputes in recent years with health-care and education workers. And he’s faced accusations of making policy moves that benefit friends in the private sector, a criticism that’s been levied against him in the LCBO dispute.

“There is a base of support for the union’s message here, both in terms of the working conditions that they’re trying to fight to improve, and in terms of the role that the LCBO plays in funding public services in the province,” she said.

But the public may not be as sympathetic to LCBO workers as it has been to some others, like in the Metro grocery workers’ strike last year, she said — a relatively straightforward fight by low-paid workers struggling to afford food against the industry being partially blamed for food prices.

“And so in the depths of a kind of historic cost-of-living crisis, I think it was easier to feel sympathy for such workers in terms of really having to fight to make up lost ground.”

That means the LCBO union has its work cut out to try and convince the public of its cause, said Ross, especially when consumers are already divided on the liquor privatization issue in the first place. She thinks the union is doing a good job, however, of arguing the case for the LCBO as a public asset that helps fund important public services.

Larry Savage, a professor in the labour studies department at Brock University, said it’s clear both the union and the Ford government “are working hard to win over the public to their respective positions.”

The union has a “potentially powerful strategy” to gain public support, but it’s not a surefire one, he said in an email.

This strategy “requires people to connect the dots between the privatization of the LCBO and the loss of a critical revenue stream that contributes billions to public services like health care and education.”

Meanwhile, the government’s strategy has been to try and leverage consumer frustration over the strike in order to drive more support for increased privatization, said Savage.

“It’s a high-risk strategy because a heavy-handed approach can sometimes backfire and garner greater sympathy for the workers and their cause.”

In the Leger poll, 32 per cent of respondents said they looked for alternative locations to buy alcohol due to the strike, and while 15 per cent said they were concerned the strike could cause them to spend more money on alcohol.

Savage said while many consumers are likely inconvenienced, he also thinks most Ontarians are suspicious of the premier’s intentions when it comes to the LCBO: “It’s a classic case of private profits over the public good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2024.

 

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Half of Ontarians support union’s goals in ongoing LCBO strike: poll

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Fewer than one-third of Ontarians say they want the provincial government to intervene to end the 12-day strike at Ontario’s main liquor retailer, while about half are supportive of the striking union’s demands.

That’s according to a new Leger poll that asked if the government should use binding arbitration or legislation to ensure LCBO stores open as soon as possible.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents supported such a move, while 44 per cent opposed it. The poll also asked if respondents support the union’s stated goals, including wage increases and more permanent positions. Just under half, 49 per cent, answered in the affirmative, while 25 per cent said they were not supportive.

Awareness of the strike in Ontario is high, according to the poll, with 89 per cent saying they knew about it, though only 15 per cent reported being personally affected. The Leger poll of 601 residents, conducted last weekend, can’t be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not considered truly random samples.

Approximately 10,000 workers at the LCBO walked off the job on July 5 after negotiations broke down.

The union representing the workers said the sides were headed back to the bargaining table Wednesday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has said the main issue is the province’s alcohol expansion plans that would see ready-to-drink cocktails sold outside LCBO stores — a move it maintains poses an existential threat to the LCBO and could lead to major job losses.

Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit, has said the plan would “mean thousands of lost jobs, fewer hours for the 70 per cent of LCBO retail workers who are casual and struggling to make ends meet, and hundreds of millions in dollars of lost public revenues drained from health care, education and infrastructure.”

The LCBO, a Crown corporation, nets the province $2.5 billion a year.

On Monday, the Ontario government sped up its expansion plan. The 450 stores across Ontario already licensed to sell beer, wine and ciders will be able to start ordering coolers and seltzers on Thursday and sell them as soon as they arrive.

The province has said it does not want to privatize the LCBO, and that the expansion is about giving people more choice and more convenience to buy alcohol.

Stephanie Ross, an associate professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University, said Premier Doug Ford doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to labour, given the high-profile disputes in recent years with health-care and education workers. And he’s faced accusations of making policy moves that benefit friends in the private sector, a criticism that’s been levied against him in the LCBO dispute.

“There is a base of support for the union’s message here, both in terms of the working conditions that they’re trying to fight to improve, and in terms of the role that the LCBO plays in funding public services in the province,” she said.

But the public may not be as sympathetic to LCBO workers as it has been to some others, like in the Metro grocery workers’ strike last year, she said — a relatively straightforward fight by low-paid workers struggling to afford food against the industry being partially blamed for food prices.

“And so in the depths of a kind of historic cost-of-living crisis, I think it was easier to feel sympathy for such workers in terms of really having to fight to make up lost ground.”

That means the LCBO union has its work cut out to try and convince the public of its cause, said Ross, especially when consumers are already divided on the liquor privatization issue in the first place. She thinks the union is doing a good job, however, of arguing the case for the LCBO as a public asset that helps fund important public services.

Larry Savage, a professor in the labour studies department at Brock University, said it’s clear both the union and the Ford government “are working hard to win over the public to their respective positions.”

The union has a “potentially powerful strategy” to gain public support, but it’s not a surefire one, he said in an email.

This strategy “requires people to connect the dots between the privatization of the LCBO and the loss of a critical revenue stream that contributes billions to public services like health care and education.”

Meanwhile, the government’s strategy has been to try and leverage consumer frustration over the strike in order to drive more support for increased privatization, said Savage.

“It’s a high-risk strategy because a heavy-handed approach can sometimes backfire and garner greater sympathy for the workers and their cause.”

In the Leger poll, 32 per cent of respondents said they looked for alternative locations to buy alcohol due to the strike, and while 15 per cent said they were concerned the strike could cause them to spend more money on alcohol.

Savage said while many consumers are likely inconvenienced, he also thinks most Ontarians are suspicious of the premier’s intentions when it comes to the LCBO: “It’s a classic case of private profits over the public good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2024.

 

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Being Angry at Employers for Looking out for Their Interests Won’t Land You a Job

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The current job market is a stark reminder of a fundamental truth: The employee-employer relationship is inherently asymmetrical. This asymmetry is the default of the employer taking on the risk of investing capital while employees only invest their time. Employers have the upper hand, and the right to work ultimately depends on their decisions, as evidenced by layoffs.

 

Employees don’t own their jobs; their employers do.

 

In the face of rejection after rejection, job seekers become frustrated and angry, blaming employers for being unreasonable, greedy, or only looking out for their interest, as if their employers are in the business of hiring people. This mindset is counterproductive and will only hinder your ability to land a job.

 

I don’t think job seekers are angry with employers. I think they’re angry because they were in demand, and now they’re not. Recently, the tech industry has had more than its share of layoffs. Most likely, until now, those laid off had only experienced being highly sought after. A shift of this kind requires humility, which is lacking amid all the anger directed at employers.

 

When making a hiring decision, the employer rightfully prioritizes its interests over those of the job seeker. Employers seek candidates who can deliver value and contribute to their organization’s success. In contrast, job seekers look for roles that fit their skills, experience, and career goals. Employers looking after their interests aren’t wrong or nefarious; it’s simply smart business.

 

Employers’ self-interests are not your enemies. Instead, use them to your advantage by identifying them and positioning yourself as the solution. Demonstrating how you’ll support the employer’s interests will turn you from a generic candidate into an asset.

Three strategies can be used to align your self-interests—presumably landing a job—with those of an employer (Envision, “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”):

 

Understand the employer’s priorities, the obvious being to generate profit.

 

Job seekers tend to focus solely on the job description and the required qualifications and overlook the company’s overall goal(s). Knowing (read: researching) the company’s goals will enable you to explain how your skills and experience can support their goals.

 

Suppose you’re applying for a marketing coordinator role at a rapidly growing tech startup. The job posting lists key responsibilities, including managing the company’s social media accounts, creating content, and planning events. However, after studying the company holistically, you find, like most companies, it prioritizes gaining new customers.

 

With this knowledge, you can position yourself as a candidate who can help drive that growth by emphasizing, using quantifying numbers (e.g., In eight months, increased Instagram followers from 1,200 to 32,000.) in your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter and during your interview, your experience developing high-performing social media campaigns attracting new leads for previous employers. You could mention your innovative ideas for using user-generated content to raise brand awareness or partnering with industry influencers. The key is to show that you possess the required functional skills and understand the company’s overall goals and how you can help achieve them.

 

Explain how you’ll make your ‘to-be’ boss’s life easier.

 

Your ‘to-be’ boss is juggling a million competing priorities, budget constraints, and pressure from their boss to optimize their team’s productivity.

 

Position yourself as the candidate who’ll simplify your ‘to-be’ boss’s life, and you’ll differentiate yourself from other candidates. During the interview, make it a point to understand the specific pain points and challenges your ‘to-be’ boss is facing—I outright ask, “What keeps you up at night?”—and then present yourself as a solution.

 

Perhaps the department has a retention problem. You could tell a STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) story, demonstrating your ability to build strong cross-functional relationships and create a positive work culture that boosts employee engagement and loyalty.

 

Educating your prospective boss that by hiring you, they’ll have one less headache is a hard-to-ignore value proposition.

 

Show how their success is equal to yours.

 

Hiring boils down to finding candidates who can drive measurable business results. Don’t rely solely on your skills and experience. Outline how you can deliver tangible benefits to the employer. Quantify the value you’ve brought to previous employers.

 

If you’re applying for a sales role, share data on the year-over-year revenue growth, client retention rates, and customer satisfaction scores you achieved in your previous positions. Quantify the value you brought to the organization, then explain how you can replicate or exceed that level of performance in the new role.

 

Say you’re interviewing for an IT support position. In addition to highlighting your technical expertise, again using a STAR story, highlight your expertise in streamlining processes, reducing downtime, and providing exceptional customer service. Tie those accomplishments back to the employer’s need to maximize productivity and minimize disruptions.

 

The key is to make a compelling case that the employer also succeeds when you succeed.

 

It’s understandable to feel frustrated by rejection, but the most successful candidates recognize that employers have legitimate business priorities. Identifying an employer’s interests and showing how you can support them will improve your chances of landing a job. Stop expecting an employer to save you. Save an employer.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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