Nelson Bennett – Apr 28, 2022 / 3:31 pm | Story: 367394
Photo: Nelson Bennett
CN CEO Tracy Robinson discusses railway supply chain issues with COFI CEO Susan Yurkovich at COFI conference
With Russia’s war in Ukraine, runaway inflation and rising interest rates, analysts and economists speaking at a Council of Forest Industries (COFI) conference Thursday were openly dropping the R word.
By the end of this year or early 2023, Europe at least and possibly North America could be in a recession, some are now predicting.
That would normally be bad news for Canada’s forestry industry.
But demand for new housing is so strong in the U.S. that Paul Jannke, principal for Forest Economic Advisors, said he expects demand for lumber in the U.S. will remain strong, even with an economic contraction due to an “underbuild” of 4 million housing units and aging housing stock.
“While we have a slowdown, these markets still remain very, very strong,” Jannke said.
And the loss of lumber imports from Russia will likely mean increased demand for Canadian lumber in “non-China” Asian countries.
“We do see room for an increase in exports to non-China for North America,” Jannke said. “We’re calling for it to occur in (2023).”
He said he expects lumber prices to be in the high US$500 per thousand board feet range in 2023. That’s lower than what prices have been for the last couple of years, “but still very high prices relative to history.
“We do see prices coming off some next year, as the markets weaken…but we think that prices are still going to remain high,” Jannke said.
The average age of homes in the U.S. is 45 years, Jannke said. Even with interest rates of 5% to 6%, Jannke said it’s “entirely possible” that demand for new home construction will remain strong in the U.S., even in a high interest rate, recessionary period.
In 2021, U.S. new housing starts were expected to be 2.2 million, but there were only 1.6 million new housing starts, leaving an underbuild.
“We just simply couldn’t build it because of the supply side,” Jannke said.
In a typical recession, U.S. housing starts would fall to 1.2 million. But even if there is an economic contraction, Jannke said U.S. housing starts are expected to be 1.6 million this year and next.
“We have fundamentally strong demand over the next decade, based on age class distribution of our population, based on pent-up demand, based on the age of the housing stock but also on the reshoring of our manufacturing,” Jannke said.
While market fundamentals bode well for B.C. forestry products, there remains a laundry list of challenges domestically for B.C. lumber and pulp and paper producers, from continued logistical pinch-points to provincial policies and regulations that deter investment.
At the end of March, Canfor Corp. announced plans to reduce operations at all of its sawmills in Western Canada, and to extend a curtailment at its pulp mill in Taylor, citing “extreme” supply chain challenges related to rail transportation.
Tracy Robinson, the new CEO for Canadian National Railway, acknowledged Thursday that CN has seemed “less than dependable” recently.
“Let’s be frank,” she said. “The business relationship between CN and this industry has been strained with all these supply chain challenges. There have been times when your sector has felt that CN was less than a dependable transportation partner.”
In addition to dealing with general logistical kinks that a global supply chain disruption has caused, CN was hit in November by floods that took out 58 sections of track over 240 kilometres in B.C. And the company is dealing with a serious workforce strain.
“We can’t get enough train crews,” Robinson said.
She said there are 300 forest sector mills within CN’s network, and said the company wants to work with the forest industry to better understand its needs.
“We need each other, and we need to start working in a more coordinated manner,” she said.
Perhaps one of the biggest problems facing B.C.’s forestry sector is a declining timber base – something that has been deepened by the John Horgan government’s new old growth protection plans, which is deleting millions of cubic metres of timber from the annual allowable cut.
B.C. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said the debate over old growth and logging has become increasingly polarized, with “extreme” views on either side. She characterized her government’s recent old growth deferrals strategy as a compromise between those two extremes.
She said environmentalists want to see a total ban on old growth logging, “regardless of the fact that this goes against the recommendations of the old growth strategic review, and would completely devastate forestry communities across the province.”
With the annual allowable cut drastically shrinking, the Horgan government has warned the industry needs to do more with less, and move from high volume to high value. It has vigorously promoted high value manufacturing like engineered wood products.
Conroy acknowledged that the primary manufacturing sector – i.e. dimensional lumber – is the backbone of B.C. forest industry, and supports the secondary industries, like engineered wood products.
“We fully recognize that B.C. needs a strong primary industry for secondary manufacturers to survive,” she said. “Now is the time for industry to work together to form new partnerships and come up with ideas for how we can provide B.C. value-added manufacturers with access to the fibre we need.”
The Canadian Press – Apr 28, 2022 / 3:24 pm | Story: 367391
Photo: The Canadian Press
Twitter app icon on a mobile phone.
Twitter’s quarterly profit, revenue and the number of daily users on its platform are rising but its quarterly report, released days after agreeing to be sold to billionaire Elon Musk, offered scant details about what it expects on the financial front for the rest of the year.
The social media company on Thursday reported net income of $513 million, or 61 cents a share, but that includes a big one-time gain from the sale of its MoPub business, clouding comparisons with the year-ago period.
Revenue, most of it from ads, rose 16% to $1.2 billion in the three months to March compared with the same period last year, though the company said the figure reflected “headwinds associated with the war in Ukraine,” without elaborating.
Twitter reported an average of 229 million daily active users in the quarter, which was about 14 million more than a revised 214.7 million daily users in the previous quarter.
The San Francisco company canceled a conference call with executives and industry analysts that usually accompanies its results, so there will be little further insight into the company’s current financial condition.
“Given the pending acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, we will not be providing any forward looking guidance, and are withdrawing all previously provided goals and outlook,” the company said.
Musk, who’s paying $54.20 for each outstanding share of Twitter, did not speak publicly on the quarterly report, perhaps among its last as a publicly traded entity.
Musk’s $44 billion deal to buy Twitter was announced earlier this week and is expected to close sometime this year. But before the deal is completed, shareholders will have to weigh in, as well as regulators in the U.S. and in countries where Twitter does business. So far though, few hurdles are expected, despite objections from some of Twitter’s own employees, along with users who worry about Musk’s stance on free speech and what it might mean for harassment and hate speech on the platform.
Angelo Zino, tech analyst at CFRA, said the results, combined with a slew of challenges facing the digital ad industry, should solidify the board’s decision to approve Musk’s offer.
“We see little reason to believe Twitter could extract greater shareholder value remaining public,” he said in a research note.
Still, Twitter shares have yet to reach the buyout price and on Thursday, the company’s stock rose slightly to $49.11.
The gap between the deal price and current stock price seems to indicate that some investors remain uncertain about when and whether the deal will be completed, said Harry Kraemer, a former CEO and chairman of Baxter International who is now a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
One factor in the uncertainty is how unusual it is for an individual to buy a multibillion-dollar company.
In the case of a publicly-traded company acquiring another, investors can examine the buyer’s financial disclosures and see whether they have the cash to fund the deal. The buyer can also issue shares to raise funds, as needed.
“But in this case, Tesla is not buying the company, Elon Musk is,” Kraemer said. “Elon Musk is an individual. You can’t look at a balance sheet and see where the cash is coming from.”
Another factor is Musk’s propensity to change his mind, fueling fears he could back out of the deal, even if he has to pay a $1 billion break-up fee.
Musk, who also runs the electric car company Tesla, as well as SpaceX and other ventures, says he plans to take Twitter private. If he does, the company will no longer be beholden to shareholders or publicly report its financial results, which have been mixed at best since the company went public in 2013.
Twitter has struggled to consistently post profits as a public company while generating lackluster revenue growth compared to the two dominant forces in digital advertising, Google and Facebook.
On one hand, going private could give Twitter more room to experiment while focusing less on short-term profit and its stock price. On the other hand, even the world’s richest man is likely to want the company to make money.
“I think there is nothing better for Twitter than Elon Musk buying it and ideally replacing the board, and also doubling down on investments into products and new revenue-generating sources,” John Meyer, a technology entrepreneur and investor, told The Associated Press earlier this week.
Graeme Wood Graeme Wood – Apr 28, 2022 / 12:20 pm | Story: 367363
Photo: Bank of Canada
Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem
Most Canadians appear concerned about rising inflation impacting their ability to lower their debt load, according to a new survey from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
While less than a third of Canadians hold debt, 68 per cent of those who do say “they are concerned or very concerned about the impact of rising inflation on their ability to pay everyday bills and living expenses,” according to CIBC.
Roughly 44 per cent of debt holders said they worried about how a further rate hike would impact their ability to make regular payments.
“Given underlying concerns over inflation and rising rates, now is the time to start discussing and planning for managing through any challenges that might emerge,” said Carissa Lucreziano, Vice-President, CIBC Financial and Investment Advice.
There also remains a sizable portion of debt holders who remain optimistic, according to the survey.
Excluding mortgage debt, CIBC says most Canadians polled believe they will be debt-free within the next five years (51 per cent) and, among those with mortgages, most expect to be debt-free by the age of 55.
Spending also appears to be climbing, with 42 per cent of Canadians say they will spend more money this summer than in previous years. Not everyone in the survey said they planned to spend so freely. Another 40 per cent, intend to tighten their spending as the costs of goods rises.
The bank found the following among those polled:
30 per cent of Canadians are currently debt-free, up four percentage points from last year
On average, those with mortgage debt said it accounts for 84.7 per cent of their total debt
61 per cent say they have an emergency fund, while 34 per cent would need to fund unforeseen expenses elsewhere
Food prices increased by 7.7 per cent year over year in March – the highest annual rate of food inflation since March 2009, according to Statistics Canada.
The Bank of Canada’s overnight interest rate sits at one per cent and its governor Tiff Macklem said this week Canadians should prepare for the rate to climb to between two per cent and three per cent within the year.
“Increases in the Bank’s policy rate raise the interest rates on business loans, consumer loans and mortgage loans—and they increase the return on savings,” said Macklem at the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce April 27.
“We have been clear that Canadians should expect a rising path for interest rates, but seeing their mortgage payments and other borrowing costs increase can be worrying. We will be assessing the impact of higher rates on the economy carefully.”
The Canadian Press – Apr 28, 2022 / 12:18 pm | Story: 367361
Photo: The Canadian Press
A processing unit at Suncor Fort Hills facility in Fort McMurray, Alta.
One of North America’s most aggressive activist investors has set its sights on Suncor Energy Inc., seeking an overhaul of the company’s board and management team, along with the possible sale of Petro-Canada.
In a letter to Suncor’s board on Thursday, U.S.-based Elliott Investment Management expressed frustration in what it said is a recent decline in performance at the energy producer.
“It is evident that Suncor’s status quo is not working,” Elliott partner John Pike and portfolio manager Mike Tomkins wrote in their letter.
“Shareholders have seen their investment lag behind nearly all large-cap North American oil and gas companies, as Suncor’s share price has remained virtually unchanged since early 2019, even as oil prices have climbed to their highest level in almost a decade.”
Suncor, which was the most valuable Canadian energy company by market capitalization from 2000 until 2018, has been in a slump recently. Elliott’s letter points out the company’s share price has lagged that of its closest oilsands peer, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., by 137 per cent over the last three years.
The company has also been plagued by a recent spate of operational difficulties — missing its corporate production guidance due to equipment failure and cold weather— as well as significant workplace safety concerns. Since 2014, there have been 12 workplace deaths at Suncor sites, which Elliott said is more than all of the company’s closest peers combined.
In their letter, Pike and Tomkins said all of these problems have roots in what they called Suncor’s “slow-moving, overly bureaucratic corporate culture.”
Elliot Investment Management is a well-known activist investor with approximately US$51.5 billion of assets under management. It has previously targeted large corporations such as AT&T, Hyundai, and Softbank.
It holds a 3.4 per cent economic interest including shares and cash-settled derivatives contracts in the Calgary-based company.
In its letter, Elliott laid out its proposal for Suncor, which includes adding five new independent directors to the company’s board and then undertaking a strategic review of Suncor’s executive management team, including CEO Mark Little.
It also wants Suncor to explore opportunities to “unlock the value” outside of its core oilsands business. Possibilities could include the potential sale or spinoff of Suncor’s Petro-Canada 1,800-location retail network.
Elliott will have done its research and clearly knows other Suncor investors are also unhappy, said Josh Young, chief investment officer and founder of Bison Investments, an oil and gas-focused investment firm based in Houston, TX.
Young pointed out that Suncor cut its dividend by over 50 per cent in the downturn of 2020, while Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. was able to maintain its dividend in spite the market challenges.
“Even if Elliott doesn’t own a lot of the stock, they’ve probably rightly identified that a lot of (Suncor’s) common shareholders would be interested in a change,” Young said.
Young said while activist investors have historically not had a lot of success targeting oil and gas companies, it’s likely that some of them are taking a fresh look at the sector right now given high oil prices and the industry’s positive market fundamentals in the near-term.
“It makes sense that activist investors are getting the all-clear from the market to refocus and go after low-hanging fruit,” he said. “And Suncor is a pretty obvious one — you have to be a big fund to target them, but it’s a pretty obvious target.”
Young added it wouldn’t be surprising to see more activist investment activity in the oil and gas sector, now that the ice has been broken.
“It seems more doable, now that Elliott’s done it,” Young said.
In their letter, Pike and Tomkins said they look forward to engaging with the board, along with their fellow shareholders, and hoped to meet with the board as soon as possible.
Suncor’s share price was up $4.74, or 11.3 per cent, to $46.90 in mid-afternoon trading Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Elliott said it believes its proposal for Suncor could result in a share price of $60 or higher, a roughly 50 per cent increase in shareholder value.
The Canadian Press – Apr 28, 2022 / 10:20 am | Story: 367347
Rogers Communications Inc. says it will bring 500 jobs to Calgary with a new national technology centre that it intends to establish following the close of the company’s proposed merger with Shaw Communications Inc.
The telecom giant says the centre will be called Rogers THINKLab.
Rogers says the centre will help foster made-in-Canada technology solutions and build a pipeline for high-skilled talent to stay and work in Canada.
Rogers says this is part of the company’s $6.5 billion commitment to invest in Western Canada first announced back in March 2021 as part of the Roger’s $26-billion deal to acquire Shaw.
Rogers and Shaw are awaiting regulatory approval from the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), and expect the deal to close by the end of the second quarter.
Chuck Chiang / BIV – Apr 28, 2022 / 10:04 am | Story: 367342
Photo: Glacier Media
Driving along Highway 1 past the North Surrey Auto Mall on a typical pre-COVID day, motorists could expect to see a collection of new cars on display – often through the glass walls of the elevated showroom of one dealership, at drivers’ eye level, right next to the road.
Today, there are no cars – only printed images of cars affixed to those same glass walls.
This situation is now the norm in the automotive industry in B.C. and everywhere else. Supply chain snarls stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increasing global unrest in several key markets, have eradicated dealers’ inventories of new vehicles.
Industry officials estimate that North American dealers now have new vehicle inventories of fewer than seven days (the amount of time it would take a dealer to sell out of its vehicles if no new cars arrive). The industry norm is 45 to 70 days.
“Different groups measure in different ways in terms of what’s the lag time versus what the inventory time is,” said Huw Williams, director of public affairs at the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association. “But I can tell you for the moment the inventory is very, very short.… We originally anticipated the situation would return to normal this summer. Now, I think that’s going to be delayed a few more months.”
Blair Qualey, president and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC, said that while he cannot confirm the exact inventory situation of each dealership, the number of new cars to sell is at a record low.
“Anyone who drives by a dealership can see the situation,” he said. “I talk to the dealers, and anecdotally from them, it’s a huge challenge for many brands … The number of new vehicles that are available is few and far between, and I suspect it will continue for several months to come.”
The primary culprit is a shortage of the kinds of computer chips that are now pervasive in modern automobiles in every facet of operation. But Qualey added that it isn’t just the chips that are now in short supply.
“These are highly sophisticated, highly technical vehicles that we run around in every day,” he said. “We take it all for granted – perhaps until you open the hood see all the complexities under there.… COVID has closed various manufacturing plants for everything from wiring harnesses to seats.”
Another major snag – though its effect is not yet widely apparent – is the lockdown of Shanghai and the paralysis of its port, where many automakers produce, ship and receive their parts for final assembly of vehicles elsewhere.
“Lately, there are people referring to the lockdown of Shanghai – a whole city of 25 million people – where a lot of manufacturing and other things that are done there for both the Chinese vehicle market and markets in other places,” Qualey said. “We don’t think of the global supply chain of these myriads of pieces that go into making a single vehicle.”
Among the items consumers will have to get used to:
- More limited choices at dealerships lots – maybe permanently. Toyota Motor North America executive vice-president Bob Carter said this month that the automaker may look at returning to a 30-day inventory as a goal for dealers – down from the pre-COVID goal of 45 days. “We may be looking at a new normal where dealers will run with lighter inventories, and consumers will have to adjust to that,” Williams said.
- Cars may be sold with parts to be added later. Qualey said some dealers are taking deliveries from automakers with a rain check: A list of all the missing microchips that will be installed in the car once the chips become available. “So the vehicle doesn’t have its heated seats or its heated steering wheel … that one might normally expect,” he said. “At least [buyers] will have a reliable vehicle they can drive safely, but they may not have all the bells and whistles right away.”
- Consumers may not be able to test drive a vehicle. “Usually, under normal circumstances, you could go to the dealers and say, ‘I want to test drive that one,’ and you can try it and go from there,” Qualey said. “Unfortunately, today, if you’re looking for some new models, you are going to have to wait some months.… Everyone’s patience is being tested, and it’s a whole new sort of marketplace.”
- More used-cars sales. The lack of new cars has driven prices of used cars to record highs, which has helped dealerships fill the gap in the inventory hole. “Revenue in the used-car market has been a huge part of [dealers’ business],” Williams said. “Given there’s going to be a wait time if you need to order a car, you may have to look at some options on the used side. And dealers have really upped their games in that area.”
Steven Chua / Squamish Chief – Apr 28, 2022 / 9:42 am | Story: 367335
Photo: Glacier Media
FortisBC is promising that while it is creating a second pipeline for its Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre LNG project, it won’t be increasing gas flow, nor will it encroach more on the environment.
Darrin Marshall, the project’s director, says the goal of having a second pipe is to ensure stability and have a backup should maintenance be required on one or the other.
“The real reason we’re doing that is for reliability reasons,” said Marshall. “The tunnel will be inaccessible post-construction. And so in the event that, say, we need to take one line out of service to do our integrity management, to run our integrity management tools, we’ll still be able to maintain service to Woodfibre.”
The FortisBC project will supply gas to Woodfibre LNG, which is expected to produce 2.1 million metric tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year.
It’s planned that this product will be shipped to Asia.
“It will not increase how much natural gas we flow to Woodfibre,” said Marshall. “It will not increase the diameter of the tunnel. It will not significantly increase the duration of construction. And so, from an environmental impact perspective, there are no real incremental impacts.”
The remarks were made during FortisBC’s open house event on April 27 at the Executive Suites. There was no formal presentation. Instead, the event took the form of a meet-and-greet, with dozens of Squamish residents coming and going throughout the evening.
Marshall said each of the two pipes would carry about 50% of the capacity.
Officials chose to have both pipes operating to better monitor the system, Marshall said.
“We looked at two options. We looked at putting it in there as a spare that’s not in operation, And then we looked at putting it into operation,” said Marshall. “And the reason we opted to [to put it in] operation is so that we can actually monitor the ongoing condition. So if it wasn’t connected, we wouldn’t be able to run our integrity management tools to be able to monitor the condition.”
He added that there would be no extra workers needed for the project.
The proposed FortisBC work camp — which was discussed a month ago — is to provide more housing for the workers that would already be working on the project, Marshall said. This would reduce or eliminate the need for workers to find housing in town, which is already feeling the squeeze of a housing crunch.
Marshall said that with Woodfibre’s notice to proceed being filed, the Fortis project will go forward. He anticipated that shovels would hit the ground early next year.
The Canadian Press – Apr 28, 2022 / 9:32 am | Story: 367334
Photo: Unsplash/El Swaggy
The U.S. government on Thursday will lay out its long-awaited plan to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, which have taken a disproportionate toll on Black smokers and other minorities.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf previewed the announcement in congressional testimony, saying the proposal would reduce disease and death by helping current smokers quit and stopping younger people from starting.
Menthol accounts for more than a third of cigarettes sold in the U.S, and the mint flavor is overwhelmingly favored by Black smokers and young people.
The FDA has attempted several times to get rid of menthol but faced pushback from Big Tobacco, members of Congress and competing political interests under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
The agency has been under legal pressure to issue a decision after anti-smoking and civil rights groups sued the FDA for “unreasonably” delaying action on earlier requests to ban menthol. Menthol’s cooling effect has been shown to mask the throat harshness of smoking, making it easier to start and harder to quit smoking.
The FDA will also seek to ban menthol and dozens of over sweet and fruity flavors from small cigars, which are increasingly popular with young people, especially Black teens.
The agency’s proposals on both cigarettes and cigars will only be initial drafts. FDA will take comments before issuing final rules, which then could face years of legal challenges from tobacco companies.
Menthol is the only cigarette flavor that was not prohibited under the 2009 law that gave the FDA authority over tobacco products, an exemption negotiated by industry lobbyists. The act did, though, instruct the agency to continue to weigh a ban.
The Canadian Press – Apr 28, 2022 / 6:52 am | Story: 367312
Photo: The Canadian Press
The U.S. economy shrank last quarter for the first time since the pandemic recession struck two years ago, contracting at a 1.4% annual rate, but consumers and businesses kept spending in a sign of underlying resilience.
The weak showing does not mean a recession is likely in the coming months. Most economists expect a rebound in the April-June quarter as solid hiring and wage gains sustain growth.
Instead, the steady spending by households and companies suggests that the economy will likely keep expanding this year even though the Federal Reserve plans to raise rates aggressively to fight the inflation surge. The first quarter’s growth was hampered mainly by a slower restocking of goods in stores and warehouses and by a sharp drop in exports.
The Commerce Department’s estimate Thursday of the first quarter’s gross domestic product — the nation’s total output of goods and services — fell far below the 6.9% annual growth in the fourth quarter of 2021. And for 2021 as a whole, the economy grew 5.7%, the highest calendar-year expansion since 1984.
The economy is facing a range of pressures that have heightened worries about its fundamental health and raised concerns about a possible recession next year. Inflation is squeezing households as gas and food prices spike, borrowing costs mount and the global economy is rattled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
To some extent, the first quarter’s weak showing also reflected a slowdown from last year’s robust rebound from the pandemic, which was fueled in part by vast government aid and ultra-low interest rates. With stimulus checks and other government supports having ended, consumer spending has slowed from its blistering pace in the first half of last year.
A broader global slowdown is also expected this year, according to estimates last week by the International Monetary Fund. The 190-nation lending organization now foresees the disruptions of the Ukraine war and COVID slowing global growth to 3.6% this year from 6.1% last year.
Still, the U.S. job market — the most important pillar of the economy — remains robust. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, fell to the lowest level since 1970. And in the January-March quarter, businesses and consumers increased their spending at a 3.7% annual rate after adjusting for inflation.
Economists consider that trend a better gauge than overall GDP of the economy’s underlying strength. Most analysts expect the steady pace of spending to sustain the economy’s growth, though the outlook remains highly uncertain.
Last quarter’s slowdown followed vigorous growth in the final quarter of 2021, driven by a surge in inventories as companies restocked in anticipation of holiday season spending.
Imports surged nearly 20% in the January-March quarter as businesses and consumers bought more goods from abroad while U.S. exports fell nearly 6%. That disparity widened the trade deficit and subtracted 3.2 percentage points from the quarter’s growth.
The weakness of the economy’s overall growth rate contrasts with the vitality of the job market. At 3.6%, the unemployment rate is nearly back to the half-century low it reached just before the pandemic. Layoffs have reached historically low levels as employers, plagued by labor shortages, have held tightly onto their workers.
Wages are rising steadily as companies compete to attract and retain workers, a trend that has helped maintain consumers’ ability to spend. At the same time, though, that spending has helped fuel inflation, which reached 8.5% in March compared with 12 months earlier.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell has signaled a rapid series of rate increases to combat higher prices. The Fed is set to raise its key short-term rate by a half-percentage point next week, the first hike that large since 2000. At least two more half-point increases – twice the more typical quarter-point hike — are expected at subsequent Fed meetings. They would amount to one of the fastest series of Fed rate hikes in decades.
Powell is betting that with job openings at near-record levels, consumer spending healthy and unemployment unusually low, the Fed can slow the economy enough to tame inflation without causing a recession. Yet most economists are skeptical that the Fed can achieve that goal with inflation as high as it is.
The Canadian Press – Apr 28, 2022 / 6:29 am | Story: 367307
Photo: The Canadian Press
Two consumer advocacy groups have filed a petition asking the federal cabinet to “set aside” the CRTC’s decision to approve the transfer of Shaw Communications Inc.’s broadcast services to Rogers Communications Inc.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the National Pensioners Federation argue that the CRTC’s decision will lead to “significant price increases” for television services.
The CRTC approved the transfer of Shaw’s broadcasting assets in March as part of the regulatory process for Rogers’ pending takeover of Shaw.
John Lawford, executive director of the PIAC, says the CRTC failed to impose enforceable conditions to protect consumer affordability of TV services.
The groups have particularly raised concerns about potential price increases for Shaw customers who subscribe only to cable or satellite television, and note that seniors are especially concerned about higher costs.
The petition comes as Rogers and Shaw await regulatory approval from the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
The Canadian Press – Apr 27, 2022 / 5:34 pm | Story: 367292
Photo: The Canadian Press
Air Transat and an Air Canada aircrafts are seen on the tarmac at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Customer service problems continue to plague Transat — and entire sector — CEO says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Transat A.T. chief executive Annick Guérard says the tour operator is working to improve the long phone-wait times and customer service frustrations plaguing the airline sector throughout the pandemic.
Following its annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, the CEO said she hopes the hours passengers spend on hold to get through to a service agent will be a thing of the past by summer.
Guérard acknowledged that customer service has not lived up to the “outstanding” standards the company tries to meet.
A source of frustration to thousands of Canadians over the past two years, the wait-time problem ranges across the industry as carriers cut staff and tried to respond to a flood of calls about cancelled flights and constant changes in COVID-19 restrictions.
Guérard, who took over as CEO in May 2021 — during the airline’s six-month shutdown — also says customers should steel themselves for higher fares due to soaring jet fuel prices, which spiked after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Montreal-based company is trying to streamline operations and shore up its domestic network along with routes to sun spots and European cities as competition with Canadian and overseas rivals heats up amid resurgent travel demand.
The Canadian Press – Apr 27, 2022 / 2:17 pm | Story: 367252
Photo: The Canadian Press
Canadian Pacific Railway trains sit idle on the train tracks at the main CP Rail trainyard in Toronto on Monday, March 21, 2022. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. saw revenue and profits dip in its first quarter as a weak grain harvest, a harsh winter and a work stoppage took their toll.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. saw revenue and profits dip in its first quarter as a weak grain harvest, a harsh winter and a work stoppage took their toll.
CEO Keith Creel says last year’s drought devastated grain volumes, while frigid weather early in 2022 and a two-day strike in March brought down revenue by six per cent and earnings by two per cent year over year.
Revenue from grain shipments — typically the railroad operator’s biggest money maker — tumbled 20 per cent, putting it below intermodal traffic.
Total net income slipped to $590 million in the quarter ended March 31, compared with $602 million in the same period in 2021.
First-quarter revenues fell to $1.84 billion from $1.96 billion last year.
Diluted earnings per share plunged to 63 cents from 90 cents a year earlier, well below analyst estimates of 73 cents per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.