Closing Bell TSX tumbles commodity prices slide amid Greek political turmoil

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market tumbled more than 200 points Tuesday as commodity prices retreated amid worries that Greece could run out of money next month.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 11704.74 -1.31% -155.92S&P 500 — 1363.72 -0.43% -5.86Dow — 12932.09 -0.59% -76.44Nasdaq — 2946.27 -0.39% -11.49The S&P/TSX composite index fell 155.8 points or 1.3% to 11,704.85 in a broad-based retreat while the TSX Venture Exchange declined 59.05 points to 1,338.37.The Canadian dollar fell 0.53 of a cent to US100.17 cents after slipping below parity with the greenback earlier in the session, going as low as US99.77 cents.Traders avoided risky assets after a prominent Greek politician called on the country’s two main party leaders to renege on their support for the multibillion-euro bailout that is keeping Greece afloat. Alexis Tsipras’ Radical Left Coalition came in a surprise second in Sunday’s indecisive election and the country is struggling to form a new government.“The popular mandate clearly renders the bailout agreement invalid,” he said.U.S. markets also retreated but finished well off the worst levels of the day. The Dow Jones average came back from a 198-point plunge to close down 76.44 points at 12,932.09.The Nasdaq composite index slid 11.49 points to 2,946.27 and the S&P 500 index fell 5.86 points to 1,363.72.Commodity prices lost ground because if Greece can’t stay solvent, it risks falling out of the eurozone, with potential knock-on effects throughout the global economy.As it is, the economies of many heavily-indebted eurozone countries are worsening as tough austerity measures adopted to rein in spending are crushing growth.“It highlights the bigger issue, which is that Europe has made some meaningful progress in addressing the capital issues of the banking system and reinforcing the banking system,” said Norman Raschkowan, North American strategist at Mackenzie Financial Corp.The TSX energy sector lost 1.12% as the June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 93 cents to US$97.01 a barrel. It earlier went as low as US$95.52, its weakest level since late December.Crude has slumped about nine% since the beginning of the month on a deterioration of the global growth outlook. Canadian Natural Resources gave back 95 cents to $30.69 and Suncor Energy was 45 cents lower at $29.77.Copper prices are also down sharply from May 1, losing 4.3%. The July contract was down 10 cents to US$3.68 cents a pound on Tuesday. Copper is viewed as an economic bellwether as it is used in so many industries. The base metals sector gave back 2.16% and Teck Resources declined 81 cents to $33.53 while Ivanhoe Mines lost 45 cents to $9.90.Railway stocks fell alongside commodity prices and mining stocks, with Canadian National Railways down $1.85 to $82.20 and Canadian Pacific Railway off 80 cents at $73.69.The gold sector was also lower as bullion prices backed off, down $34.60 at US$1,604.50 an ounce, the lowest close since Jan 3. Goldcorp Inc. faded $1.53 to $34.40 and Barrick Gold Corp. shed 96 cents to $36.71.Blue chips also contributed to the negative showing with the financial sector down 1.2%. Scotiabank lost 57 cents to $53.02 and TD Bank eased $1.23 to $80.42.On the corporate front, Research In Motion gained 25 cents to $12 as the BlackBerry maker hired two veterans from the mobile computing industry for the key roles of chief operating officer and chief marketing officer.There was also plenty of earnings news to digest.Food company George Weston Ltd. said first-quarter net earnings attributable to shareholders grew 18% to $124-million from $105-million in the quarter a year earlier. Sales increased 1% to $7.22-billion from $7.15-billion a year ago but its shares dipped $1.35 to $59.13.Here’s the news investors were watching today:Condos drive Canada’s housing start surgeGermany to Greece: No austerity, no aidYahoo CEO apologizes for uproar over bogus degreeRIM appoints chief marketing officer, chief operating officerON DECK WEDNESDAYECONOMIC NEWSUNITED STATES10 a.m.Wholesale Trade (March): Economists expect 0.6% riseCORPORATE NEWSCANADATim Hortons Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 58¢ a share Telus Corp Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $1.04 Agrium Inc Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $1 Enbridge Inc Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 48¢ Torstar Corp Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 27¢ Quebecor Inc Q1 earnings: Analysts expect $1 Linamar Corp Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 48¢ Cascades Inc Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 7¢ First Quantum Minerals Ltd Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 24¢ HudBay Minerals Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 12¢ Onex Corp Q1 earnings UNITED STATESCisco Systems Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 47¢ a share CenturyLink Inc Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 58¢ read more

Markets mixed in wake of debt deal

North American stock markets were mixed as relief that U.S. lawmakers have headed off a potential default was muted by the fact that Republicans and Democrats will be locking horns again over the debt issue in just a few months.The S&P/TSX composite index edged up 15.61 points to 12,972.82 with lift coming primarily from a sharp gain in the gold sector.The Canadian dollar was up 0.41 of a cent to 97.18 cents US while the U.S. dollar weakened after the Senate and House of Representatives passed a measure Wednesday night that reopens the government through Jan. 15 and permits the U.S. Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer.It included nothing for Republicans demanding to eradicate or scale back President Barack Obama’s signature health-care overhaul.U.S. indexes were mixed following a strong relief rally over the previous two sessions. But markets were also pressured by weak earnings reports from IBM and Goldman Sachs and the Dow Jones industrials fell 69.87 points to 15,303.96.The Nasdaq gained 2.19 points to 3,841.62 and the S&P 500 index added 0.83 of a point to 1,722.37.The debt deal was reached just before a deadline when the U.S. borrowing authority was set to expire, meaning the government would have started to run out of money to pay creditors.“The deal comes not a minute too soon,” said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri.“Of course this is only a temporary solution and more hard work needs to be done to avoid another standoff in the new year. But the political damage to the GOP could see it play nicer in the sandbox, for fear of losing their majority in the House in the November 2014 elections.”Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, welcomed the deal but said the shaky American economy needs more stable long-term management.Meanwhile, traders took in a fresh batch of earnings reports from a variety of companies, including market heavyweights Goldman Sachs and IBM, and looked ahead to the release of a slew of earnings reports which weren’t released earlier this month because of the government shutdown.On Thursday, Goldman Sachs’ posted third-quarter net earnings of US$1.52 billion, or $2.88 a share, up from $1.51 million, or $2.85 a share a year ago. Revenue fell to $6.72 billion from $8.35 billion a year earlier. Analysts expected earnings of $2.46 a share on revenue of $7.34 billion and its shares fell $4.11 to $158.14.After the market close Wednesday, IBM said that its third-quarter net income rose six per cent, but revenue fell and missed Wall Street’s expectations by more than $1 billion, pushing its stock down $11.37, or six per cent, to $175.36.Worries that the U.S. deal to avoid default only postpones the debt problems helped push most commodity prices lower.But December bullion gained $37.10 to US$1,319.40 an ounce and the gold sector ran ahead about 4.25 per cent. Goldcorp (TSX:G) improved by 97 cents to C$25.38 while Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) lost 68 cents to $18.91.The base metals component rose one per cent even as December copper slipped two cents to US$3.29 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) ran up 55 cents to C$28.46.Tech stocks led TSX decliners, down over one per cent with CGI Group (TSX:GIB.A) down $1.35 to C$37.06.Industrials were also weak with Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) stepping back $1.61 to $133.The telecom sector was down 0.6 per cent after the federal government outlined plans in its throne speech Wednesday that would mandate an unbundling of cable TV offerings. There was also a promise to reduce smart phone roaming charges and Telus (TSX:T) was off 50 cents to C$34.25.The November crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost $1.52 to US$100.77 a barrel and the energy sector slipped 0.1 per cent. Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) fell 25 cents to C$30.74.European bourses declined as London’s FTSE 100 index slipped 0.21 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX was down 0.54 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 lost 0.24 per cent. read more

Bell Media partners with three big telecoms for Project Latte video streaming

TORONTO — Bell Media has struck a distribution deal with three major telecommunications companies to deliver its new video streaming service.The service, codenamed “Project Latte,” will be offered across Canada by Telus, Bell Aliant and Bell Canada, the multimedia giant announced Wednesday.Customers with Telus Optik TV, Bell Fibe TV and Bell Aliant FibreOP TV set-top boxes will be offered “Project Latte” when it launches. It will also be available via mobile apps, the web, game consoles and smart TVs.Bell Media says “Project Latte” will feature thousands of hours of television content. It’s the only streaming platform in Canada to boast HBO’s entire off-air library of shows including “Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.”“Project Latte” arrives on the heels of Rogers and Shaw Media’s Shomi, a streaming video service with a catalogue of popular shows including “Modern Family” and “New Girl” that was officially launched Tuesday.Bell Media launching video streaming service with entire HBO scripted libraryBell Media announced its “Project Latte” last week and promised it would be made available to every TV provider in Canada. Pricing and packaging details have yet to be announced.Bell Media president Kevin Crull said in a press release that the company looks forward to announcing more partners as it moves closer to the launch.“With the first of Canada’s major television providers signed on, representing approximately 3.5 million customers across the country, we are well on our way to delivering on our objective of serving every TV subscriber in Canada with Project Latte,” he said. read more

TSX experiences hangover from last week as gold and oil fall

TORONTO • The Toronto Stock Exchange was dragged down to a triple-digit decline on Monday as gold and oil prices fell.The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 217.29 points to 14,425.55.The Toronto market’s move mirrored a slide in the prices for both oil and gold.Kevin Headland, director of capital markets and strategy at Manulife Asset Management, said the market was still experiencing a “hangover” from last week, when the Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point.He said markets have been hurt by recent news that Canada may be in a technical recession, defined as two consecutive quarters without economic growth, and that the country’s exports have been outpaced by imports recently despite a falling Canadian dollar.“We’re in a net trade deficit and we’re a trade surplus country,” he said. “We rely on a trade surplus for our economic growth.”The August contract for gold ended the day down $25.10 to US$1,106.50, while the September contract for crude oil closed down 77 cents to US$50.44.“It’s still a commodities-based index,” Headland said. “You’re not seeing any reason to move higher and you’re just getting pushed back by oil prices.”Headland said that indicators show the worldwide supply of oil is at its highest point in a decade, even before factoring in the impact of the recent nuclear deal with Iran that includes returning some of that country’s oil supplies to the global market.“The expectation is that oil could go even weaker from here,” he said. “Companies have kept up production. I won’t say the world is awash with oil but there’s enough supply, enough inventory to go around.”In Halifax, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said on Monday that Canada needs to find new buyers and new markets for its oil.The August crude contract, which expired at the end of Monday’s session, settled at US$50.15.The slide in gold reflects the commodity’s decreasing value as a safe haven for investors, Headland said.Headland added that despite recent events in Greece and China — the latter a country where a stock-market free-fall was only halted by government intervention — the world’s economy has less uncertainty.And with stock markets recovering in the United States, Headland said, gold loses its lustre as a place to park your money.“I wouldn’t be surprised to see it bounce back off this low, but I think we’re going to see lower gold in this range for quite some time,” he said.The August contract for natural gas closed down 4.7 cents to US$2.82.In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 13.96 points to end the day at 18,100.41, while the Nasdaq gained 8.72 points to a record 5,218.86. The S&P 500 added 1.64 points to total 2,128.28.The Canadian dollar closed down 0.06 of a cent to 76.94 cents US.The Canadian Press read more

Stronger economy wont knock Ottawa from its deficit path Morneau

OTTAWA — Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau suggests he has no plans to provide a timetable for returning Ottawa’s books to balance — even with a scorching economy.Morneau credited the strong economic performance to the Trudeau government’s strategy to run deficits, which helped it finance measures such as lower income-tax rates for middle earners and enhanced child benefits.Moving forward, he said Tuesday that Ottawa intended to pursue its plan to invest more than $180 billion into infrastructure over the next 11 years. That spending is projected to contribute to annual, multibillion-dollar shortfalls across Ottawa’s five-year budgetary outlook — and perhaps beyond.Morneau’s remarks outside a cabinet retreat in St. John’s came after months of impressive economic data, including a recent report showing growth expanded at an annualized rate of 4.5 per cent in the second quarter.“We find ourselves in this positive position because of the economic approach we’ve taken,” he told reporters after being asked if the improved fiscal outlook meant he’d produce a timeline to eliminate the deficit in his fall economic update.“We’re going to continue down that path and we’re going to do it in a fiscally responsible way.”The Liberals’ deficit track has faced criticism.Conservative opponents have long been critical about the government’s plan to add to the federal debt to fund new measures, while some economists have urged Ottawa to limit fiscal uncertainty by mapping out a plan to return to balance.More recently, experts have also warned that Ottawa should consider delaying its nearer-term infrastructure investments to avoid the risk of overheating the already-sizzling economy.The economy’s surprisingly powerful start to the year is expected to improve the federal bottom line outlined in the government’s March budget.At the time, Morneau forecasted a $28.5-billion deficit for 2017-18, including a $3-billion accounting adjustment for risk.A new analysis released this week by a University of Ottawa think tank predicts the deficit is on track to be about $6.5 billion smaller this year. The shortfall is set to shrink thanks to an economic expansion that easily topped federal projections, said the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy.The think tank, led by former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, also said there’s “little doubt” the federal measures, such as increased child benefits and early infrastructure spending, have contributed to Canada’s improved economic performance.Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals were fortunate to have inherited a solid financial situation from the Harper government and to enjoy the benefits of a strengthening U.S. economy.Poilievre said the government should balance the books now while the “going’s good.”If not, he warned that rising interest rates will leave households and the government increasingly indebted. Over time, the higher rates will also gradually boost Ottawa’s debt-servicing costs, he added.“Now is the time to balance the budget and strengthen our finances, rather than continuing to pile on new debt,” Poilievre said Tuesday in an interview.Morneau insisted Tuesday that, since taking office, the government’s approach has put more disposable income in consumers’ pockets, which they’ve put back into the economy.On infrastructure, Morneau said Ottawa would stick with the spending strategy because it’s designed to lift the economy over the long term.To guide the government’s deficit decisions, he added it would keep its focus on the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio — a measure of the public debt burden.The government has promised to lower the ratio over the Liberal mandate and views it as a so-called fiscal anchor, rather than eliminating the deficit.“We expect that we’ll be able to do even better than we might have thought in the past, in terms of our ability to manage that,” Morneau said of the ratio.“That will be our continuing measurement tool.”The Liberals won the 2015 election on a platform that pledged to invest billions in infrastructure and child benefits as a way to re-energize the economy. They had promised annual shortfalls would not surpass $10 billion during the first couple years of their mandate and to return to balance by 2019-20.However, a few months after taking office the government abandoned those vows, citing a weaker-than-expected economy.Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter read more

Selfdriving Ubers could still be many years away says research head

MONTREAL — The head of Uber’s new self-driving vehicle lab says a viable, on-demand autonomous commercial transportation service remains a long-term goal.“Having self-driving cars at a smaller scale, on a small set of roads, we are fairly close,” Raquel Urtasun said Tuesday after addressing a Deep Learning Summit in Montreal“To see at an Uber scale we are far.”She said much work remains to ensure the technology functions in all possible conditions and locations.Urtasun declined to predict how far away research being conducted in Toronto will generate the required results.She said the biggest challenge is the technology itself.Mapping also remains a very expensive challenge. The cost in the United States alone is estimated at US$2 billion and a cheaper solution is required, she added.“Nobody has a solution to self-driving cars that is reliable and safe enough to work everywhere,” she said in an interview.Automotive manufacturers and tech companies are spending considerable money to develop autonomous vehicles.Yoshua Bengio, an expert in artificial intelligence and head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, agrees that it’s going to be many years before vehicles are actually autonomous.“I think people underestimate how much basic science still needs to be done before these cars or such systems will be able to anticipate the kinds of unusual, dangerous situations that can happen on the road,” he said in an interview.Urtasun told artificial intelligence colleagues that she chose to work for Uber because she wanted to work in Toronto, not in Silicon Valley, the epicentre of technology in California.“The Silicon Valley should be in Canada,” she said to loud applause.“(Also), it is transportation for everybody, not just for the rich. I like that idea.”Uber has fleets of test cars outfitted with cameras and sensors on the streets of Pittsburgh, Phoenix, San Francisco and Toronto that have travelled more than one million miles.Urtasun said the goal of her work is to improve transportation safety, increase efficiency, reduce congestion and cut the amount the space used to park vehicles.“The goal is to get to the transportation of the future.”Uber Freight is working on developing autonomous vehicles for trucking, which have different requirements than cars used in cities.Urtasun defended the potential job displacement that would be caused by a commercial driverless Uber fleet, even one that works in concert with a service with drivers.She noted that disruptions in the past weren’t necessarily bad. She pointed to the impact of ATM machines on tellers and tractors compared to horse-drawn carriages.“There will be a disruption but hopefully there will also be a lot of other new jobs that will be created as well.”Bengio was more cautious, noting that the risk of job losses due to artificial intelligence is real, and that politicians should plan accordingly.“I believe that governments should start thinking right now about how to adapt to this in the next decade, how to change our social safety net to deal with that.” read more

Six passengers who arrived from Sri Lanka arrested in Dhaka

All six are Bangladesh nationals and were arrested by customs sleuths on arriving at the Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka. Customs Intelligence said the Pakistani products are used in ‘beautification and skin care’.The arrested passengers had not obtained the necessary clearance from the BSTI as required by the import guidelines.The kind of bags they were using also cannot be used for the purpose, customs officials said. Six passengers who has arrived from Sri Lanka were arrested at the Dhaka airport today, bdnews24.com reported.The six passengers who arrived from Sri Lanka reached Dhaka via Pakistan and were arrested by customs officers with 370 kilograms of cosmetic items. Customs Intelligence Director General Moinul Khan told bdnews24.com that all six were travelling from Colombo via Karachi.“They had made no declaration about carrying any commercial cargo in line with the baggage rules. Twenty-three bags belonging to them were identified when they landed at the airport. Then when crossing the Green Channel, they were questioned and searched leading to the find,” he said. They were identified as Shaheen Alam, Dalim Hossain, ‘Babul’ and ‘Minar’ from Comilla, Md Mosharaf Bapari from Madaripur and Md Sheikh Khurshid from Narayanganj. Clearance from the Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports is mandatory for carrying commercial quantities of goods. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Speaker decides vote on majority will be taken on November 14

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) told the Speaker today that they object to a vote being taken on November 14 on who has majority support to form a Government. President Maithripala Sirisena convened Parliament on November 14 after he prorogued the House last month. However all other political parties which are not part of the new Government wanted the vote taken on November 14.The Speaker said that based on the opinion of a majority of Parliament members he has decided to suspend the standing orders of Parliament after the main items on the agenda on November 14 are completed, and take the vote of confidence on the Government. (Colombo Gazette) Speaker Karu Jayasuriya today decided that when Parliament convenes on November 14 the vote on who has majority support to form a Government will be taken.The decision was taken when part leaders met the Speaker today to decide the agenda for November 14. read more

Violence breaks out inside Parliament

The United National Party called for a no-confidence vote on the statement made by Rajapaksa today. The Speaker ordered the MPs to return to their seats but they refused to do so and kept verbally abusing the Speaker.UNP MPs then attempted to protect the Speaker and a clash broke out. Several MPs were seen falling down the stairs during the clash and some sustained injuries. The Speaker then sought Parliament approval to call for a vote by name. However the Government objected and several Government MPs ran towards the Speaker and threatened him. As the tense situation continued for several minutes a waste paper basket was seen been thrown towards some of the MPs.Both sides then began to shout slogans in the well of the House during which time the Speaker, Prime Minister and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe left.Several MPs continued to remain inside Parliament even after the protest ended. (Colombo Gazette) A clash broke out in Parliament today between MPs from the Government and the opposition.Parliamentarians from both sides clashed after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa made a special statement. read more

President frees 762 prisoners to mark Vesak

The Justice Ministry said that 117 prisoners at the Welikada prison, 62 in Palakale and 50 inmates of the Anuradhapura prison are among those freed today.All those freed were in jail for minor offenses and did not include convicts jailed for rape, child abuse or heroin use and drug trafficking. President Maithripala Sirisena today released 762 prisoners under a Presidential pardon to mark Vesak.An event was held at the Welikada prison to free the inmates with the participation of the President. Among the prisoners freed are 736 males and 26 females, the Justice Ministry said. Justice Minister Thalatha Atukorale said that the President used the powers vested in him to grant pardon to the 762 prisoners. read more