Monday, June 30, 2008

Chrysler to cut minivan production

Chrysler said Monday that it will close a factory in Fenton, Mo., that makes minivans, and cut a shift at another plant that assembles pickup trucks.

In a company conference call, the company's plant in Windsor, Ont., was not identified as being in line for cuts.

The U.S. plant closing is bad news, even though the Windsor factory was spared, said Ken Lewenza, president of Canadian Auto Workers local 444, which represents the Windsor workers.

TSX rises with oil prices

Another record oil price helped boost the S&P/TSX composite index to a gain Monday in light trading on the day before the Canada Day holiday.

The index added 112.23 points to close at 14,467.44 after the August contract for crude oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) touched $143.67 US a barrel, a new record.

The oil price fell back to close down 21 cents at $140, but Canadian energy stocks — measured by the TSX energy sub-index — held on to the early increases and ended the day up 1.8 per cent.

GDP grew in April, says StatsCan

Canada's gross domestic product rebounded in April after shrinking in February and March, Statistics Canada reported Monday.

Manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and the financial sector grew, offsetting drops in construction, and the oil and gas industry.

The GDP was up 0.4 per cent in April, after dropping 0.2 per cent in March and 0.3 per cent in February.

The April 2008 figure was up 1.2 per cent from the April 2007 report.

EBay to pay $61M for allowing auction of phoney bags, perfumes

EBay to pay $61M for allowing auction of phoney bags, perfumesEBay says it plans to appeal a decision that ordered the online auction site to pay $61 million US in damages to the luxury goods manufacturer LVMH.(CBC)

Tech heavyweights team up to fend off patent lawsuits

Several major U.S. technology companies are collaborating to buy up patents in a move aimed at warding off lawsuits for intellectual-property infringement.

Telecom firms Verizon Communications, Ericsson and Cisco Systems, as well as Google and computer-maker Hewlett-Packard will each pay $250,000 to join a venture called Allied Security Trust and another $5 million toward future patent purchases, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Rogers draws fire for iPhone rates

Rogers draws fire for iPhone ratesMore than 18,000 people have signed an online petition asking for lower rates from Rogers on Apple's iPhone.(Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Rogers Communications Inc. is taking fire from potential customers, who are outraged by the rate plans it announced on Friday for Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

Bankers balking at BCE buyout: report

Bankers balking at BCE buyout: reportThree-month BCE trading on the TSX

The leveraged buyout of BCE Inc. could be delayed as the banks that are to finance the $52-billion deal want to revise the terms, according to a report.

Canada losing ground, Conference Board says

Canada is in the middle of the pack of the 17 wealthiest countries in terms of social and economic rankings, the Conference Board of Canada reported Monday.

It gave Canada four Bs — for economy, education, health and the social environment — but only a C on environment and a D on innovation. The board gives a B to countries in the second quartile, a C in the third and a D in the bottom.

Its 12th benchmarking report card was "disappointing," the board said.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bill Gates in Canada: a checkered legacy

Bill Gates in Canada: a checkered legacyMicrosoft chairman Bill Gates has helped the University of Waterloo establish itself as a top technology centre.(CBC)

For Bill Gates in Canada, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

CRTC gives nod to Remstar takeover of TQS

Canada's broadcast regulator on Thursday approved Remstar Diffusion Inc.'s acquisition of Quebec's TQS Network, allowing the network to cut back on local programming and news.

Money-losing TQS, which faces tough competition from larger rivals Radio-Canada and TVA, was placed under creditor protection last December amid mounting financial woes.

During hearings earlier this month, Remstar officials said they want to amend the TQS licence because it is too costly to produce newscasts in Montreal, Quebec, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay. Remstar wanted to shut down newsrooms in the five cities. Union officials and politicians spoke out against what they saw as an erosion of news broadcasting in Quebec.

Digital phones ringing at Shaw Communications

Digital phones ringing at Shaw Communications Three-month TSX trading in Shaw Communications

The digital services offered by Shaw Communications Inc. are the fastest-growth areas of the company, it said in releasing its third-quarter results Friday.

Rogers announces iPhone 3G packages

Voice and data plans for Apple Inc.'s much-anticipated iPhone 3G will start at $60 per month when the smartphone hits Canadian stores on July 11, Rogers Wireless said Friday.

For $60, consumers get 150 minutes of voice calling, with unlimited evenings and weekends; 400 megabytes of data; 75 sent text messages, with unlimited incoming text messages and visual voicemail messages.

A $75 package nets 300 minutes of calls, 750 MB data and 100 sent text messages while a $100 plan will get you 600 minutes of calls with 1 GB of data and 200 sent text messages.

Grey Wolf rejects third Precision bid

Grey Wolf rejects third Precision bidThree-month TSX trading in Precision Drilling units

Drilling company Grey Wolf Inc. of Houston has rejected the third takeover offer from Precision Drilling Trust.

Oil hits record $142 US

Oil prices touched a new record intraday high on Friday climbing above $142 US a barrel on Friday as investors continued to pour into commodities.

The price of light, sweet crude for August delivery hit a peak of $142.93 in early trading, before finishing the day at $140.21, up 57 cents from Thursday's close.

Oil shot up more than $5 a barrel Thursday after OPEC's president suggested that crude could top $150 a barrel this year.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Canada urged to lift foreign ownership limits in several sectors

Canada urged to lift foreign ownership limits in several sectorsCompetition Policy Review Panel chairman Lyndon "Red" Wilson says Canadian companies need to expand internationally in order to avoid being swallowed up and hollowed out.(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Foundation set no money aside for annuities, insurance workers allege

Claims by the Banyan Tree Foundation that it has set money aside in annuities for more than 20 charities are being disputed by former employees of a Bahamian insurance company that facilitated the work of the Canadian foundation, which is under federal investigation.

The existence of annuities, which were supposed to support the charities for 25 years, was "a charade," alleges Roshan Noronha, the former comptroller for Nassau-based Hampton Insurance.

U.S. economy grew 1% in Q1

Rising exports helped the U.S. economy post first-quarter performance that was slightly-better than initially forecast.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday that economic growth for the January-March quarter was one per cent — just ahead of the 0.9 per cent initial estimate the U.S. government provided one month ago.

The first-quarter growth was also better than the weak 0.6 per cent increase seen during the fourth quarter of 2007.

Canadians spending their tourism dollars at home

Tourism spending in Canada rose 1.3 per cent during the first three months of this year, as Canadians' spending at home grew, while foreign spending continued to slide, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Tourism spending has increased in every quarter since the second quarter of 2003, the federal government agency said.

Spending by Canadians on domestic tourism grew by 2.3 per cent in the January-March period, the fastest pace in nine quarters. Statistics Canada said the increase came in tandem with an increase in employment and gains in Canadians' personal disposable income.

Top court sides with Honda in landmark wrongful-dismissal case

The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned a lower court's decision to award a former Honda employee thousands of dollars in punitive damages for being fired without cause.

In a 7-2 decision, the top court on Friday also reduced the amount of severance pay the employee received from 24 months worth of salary to 15 months.

Kevin Keays, who was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome a decade ago, was fired from a Honda assembly plant in Alliston, Ont., in March 2000, after he missed many days of work.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Biovail founder plans court challenge of vote against changes

Biovail founder plans court challenge of vote against changesBiovail 3-month TSX chart

The shareholder vote Wednesday that rejected Biovail Corp. founder Eugene Melnyk's plan to replace the board of the pharmaceutical company will be the subject of a court battle.

Federal Reserve leaves interest rates unchanged

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday did what economists had been predicting and left a key interest rate unchanged as it shifted its focus to inflation control from economic growth.

The U.S. central bank's decision to hold the line ended a string of seven interest rate cuts dating back to Aug. 7, 2007. During that span, the Fed cut the federal funds rate to two per cent, down from 5.25 per cent. The Fed said it expects inflation to moderate later in 2008 and 2009.

Oil pipeline capacity tight in 2008, NEB says

Oil pipeline capacity tight in 2008, NEB saysOilsands projects are boosting the amount of oil for sale and pipeline capacity will be tight this year, the National Energy Board says.(Canadian Press)

RIM stock tumbles on TSX

RIM stock tumbles on TSXThree-month trading in RIM on the TSX

Shares in market darling Research in Motion plunged in Toronto on Thursday, a day after the company reported its first-quarter results.

The numbers reported Wednesday were large, with profit doubling, but still below market expectations.

Bell still hasn't proven need for internet throttling: critics

Bell still hasn't proven need for internet throttling: criticsBell says congestion on its network functions like in the road system, where the jamming of one major artery often clogs up other attached streets.(Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Oil trades lower

Oil traded lower on Wednesday after U.S. crude supplies were reported to have risen unexpectedly last week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude for August delivery fell more than $4 US early in the trading session before recovering some ground. Oil finished down $2.45 at $134.55 a barrel.

The U.S. Energy Department reported that crude supplies increased by 803,000 barrels last week. Analysts had been projecting a decline of 1.7 million barrels.

Oil adds $5 barrel

The price of oil traded up more than $5 US on Thursday after Libya hinted at a production cut and the head of OPEC said prices could top $150 a barrel this year.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude for August delivery rose $5.09 to settle at $139.64.

Earlier, oil hit an intraday peak of $140.39. That marked the first time the near-month contract for oil had surpassed $140. The previous near-month record high was $139.89 for the July contract reached on June 16.

Conrad Black loses appeal of fraud, obstruction convictions

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld Conrad Black's 2007 convictions for fraud and obstruction of justice.

The court said the defence's arguments were not enough to overturn the conviction of Black and three co-accused — John Boultbee, Peter Atkinson and Mark Kipnis.

"The evidence established a conventional fraud, that is, a theft of money or other property from Hollinger by misrepresentations and misleading omissions amounting to fraud," Judge Richard Posner wrote in a decision with Judges Michael Kanne and Diane Sykes.

Google names Bell executive its CFO

Google names Bell executive its CFOPatrick Pichette, former president of operations at Bell Canada, joins Google as CFO in August.(Bell)

Search engine giant Google Inc. has named Bell Canada executive Patrick Pichette as its new senior vice-president and chief financial officer.

Magna unit to become backup factory for Porsche

Magna unit to become backup factory for PorscheA Magna unit will start producing Porsche Boxsters, like this one on Porsche's production line in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2012. (Thomas Kienzle/Associated Press)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Teachers' Pension Plan, partner buy Chilean electricity system

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and a U.S. infrastructure fund are splitting the $870 million US cost to buy a large Chilean electricity distribution system, the SAESA Group.

Teachers' and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure will each own half of SAESA, which serves 16 per cent of Chile's population (about 2.6 million people), the buyers said in a news release Tuesday.

The buyers will also assume more than $400 million in existing SAESA debt.

2 major oil projects close at hand, Williams says

2 major oil projects close at hand, Williams saysDanny Williams told NOIA members he's hopeful that a deal on Hibernia South can be reached by the end of the year. (CBC)

Provident sells some U.S. assets for $345M US

Provident sells some U.S. assets for $345M USThree-month trading in Provident units on the TSX.

Provident Energy Trust said Tuesday that it has sold some of the U.S. oil and gas operations it earlier deemed no longer vital to its future.

Canada's airlines: Risky business

Canada's airlines: Risky business Air Canada jets are shown at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. Canada's dominant airline cut 2,000 jobs and slashed capacity in June 2008 in the face of soaring fuel costs. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)It's a tough business, trying to run a profitable scheduled airline in Canada — or anywhere else — these days. Intense competition and soaring jet fuel costs have brought down more than a few of North America’s smaller airlines and are hobbling the big players.

Bruce Power to study building nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan

An Ontario-based nuclear power company has turned up the heat on what's been a simmering debate recently in Saskatchewan, saying it will look at the feasibility of building a reactor in the province.

With two Saskatchewan cabinet ministers looking on, Bruce Power president Duncan Hawthorne announced in Saskatoon Tuesday the study would begin this summer and wrap up by the end of the year.

According to the company, the Saskatchewan 2020 study would look at potential locations, the economic impact and how to integrate nuclear power into Saskatchewan's other energy sources.

GM won't commit to Oshawa plant, Hargrove says

General Motors is still saying it will close its pickup truck plant in Oshawa, Ont., in 2009, the head of Canadian Auto Workers union said after meeting with company officials on Tuesday.

The closing — expected to cost 2,600 CAW jobs — was announced on June 3 by GM, which cited a dramatic drop in truck sales. The CAW then blockaded the company's corporate headquarters in Oshawa, only moving Monday morning after GM won a court injunction.

Monday, June 16, 2008


GDP(Canadian Press)

GDP — or Gross Domestic Product — is the most widely used indicator of the overall size and health of a country 's economy.

The "Gross" in GDP means that it includes the costs associated with the depreciation of things like buildings machinery and equipment.

The "Domestic" refers to the requirement that the economic activity must take place within the boundaries of Canada, so goods produced by Canadian companies overseas are not factored in, and goods produced for foreign companies in Canada are.

Don't hold breath on final Hebron deal: Williams

Don't hold breath on final Hebron deal: WilliamsDanny Williams said a target of finalizing a Hebron deal will likely not be met by an offshore oil conference this week. (CBC)

BCE, bondholders to face off in Supreme Court

BCE Inc. and its bondholders will meet at the Supreme Court of Canada on Tuesday to square off over the largest leveraged buyout in the world.

The bondholders, which include TD Asset Management, CIBC and Manulife Financial Corp., will argue they are not being treated fairly in the $52-billion takeover by a group of investors led by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

The buyout of the telecommunications giant includes about $34 billion in new debt financing.

'This fight is far from over': CAW leader on end of GM blockade

Union members complied with a court order to end their blockade at General Motors of Canada's headquarters on Monday, but warned they have more protests in store for the automaker.

Members of the Canadian Auto Workers packed up and drove their cars and trucks away from the Oshawa, Ont., office building a few minutes before 7 a.m., in keeping with a deadline imposed by the Ontario Superior Court.

"We never, ever intended to violate the terms the judge put in place," CAW Local 222 president Chris Buckley told CBC News after the blockade ended.

Oil prices hit new high before going into retreat

A weakening U.S. dollar on Monday helped propel the price of oil to another record high before crude went into retreat in afternoon trading

Oil for July delivery briefly touched $139.89 US a barrel in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil rose as the U.S. dollar fell against the euro, the British pound and the Canadian dollar. The U.S. dollar was lower on a report of softer manufacturing in New York state, observers said.

The future is wireless, Rogers tells telecom summit

The sixth annual Canadian Telecom Summit kicked off on Monday with Rogers Communications stressing that the future of the industry would be all about wireless.

"There is no doubt in my mind," said Nadir Mohamed, president and chief operating officer of Rogers Communications Inc., "that what we've seen in the wired internet world, in terms of market share and penetration, will in fact happen in the wireless world."

Mohamed said the arrival of the iPhone and the growing popularity of Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry, demonstrates that wireless web usage is about to explode.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

CAW, GM await ruling on blockade

An Ontario judge is considering whether to grant an injunction to end the blockade at General Motors of Canada's Oshawa headquarters.

Judge David Salmers postponed his decision in a Whitby courtroom on Thursday, saying he needed more time to think it over. He said he would deliver his ruling via e-mail as soon as possible.

Canadian Auto Workers union members have been protesting in front of the headquarters since the company announced June 3 it was closing a truck plant in Oshawa by the end of 2009, putting 2,600 people out of work.

Yahoo makes Google ad deal; says talks with Microsoft are dead

Yahoo makes Google ad deal; says talks with Microsoft are deadYahoo 3-month Nasdaq chart

Yahoo Inc. said Thursday it is entering a non-exclusive partnership on search advertising with archrival Google, hours after saying any chance of a deal with software maker Microsoft is dead.

Quebec companies charged with fixing gas prices

Criminal charges have been laid against 13 people and 11 companies accused of fixing the price of gas in Quebec, the federal Competition Bureau said Thursday.

The suspects and companies operated in Victoriaville, Thetford Mines, Magog and Sherbrooke.

Three companies and one person pleaded guilty in Quebec Superior Court in Victoriaville on Thursday to related charges.

The companies, which included Ultramar Ltd., face up to $2 million in fines in total.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Judge orders union to end GM HQ blockade by Monday

The 10-day-long blockade at General Motors of Canada's Oshawa, Ont., headquarters by members of the Canadian Auto Workers union must end by Monday morning, a judge ruled Friday.

Judge orders union to end GM HQ blockade by Monday

Fuel prices, economy squeezing airlines

Fuel prices, economy squeezing airlinesAbout 4,000 people have taken a severance package at Delta Air Lines, a spokeswoman said. (Al Behrman/Associated Press)

The failed buyout of a British airline, a report that employees are flocking to leave a major U.S. carrier and a forecast that several U.S. airlines will fail by 2009 provided more evidence Friday of the troubled state of the air travel business.

Canadian real estate boom over, statistics indicate

Canadian real estate boom over, statistics indicate A recently built home sits ready for sale.(Seth Perlman/Associated Press)

The real estate market has run out of steam, a report from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) suggests.

Energy drives April factory sales gain

Energy drives April factory sales gainBig gains at petroleum-products companies helped drive April factory sales up two per cent from March.(CBC)

Booming coal and petroleum-products companies sold more than $7 billion worth of products in April, a new monthly high, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Food prices rose just 1.2% over past year: StatsCan

Food prices rose just 1.2% over past year: StatsCanVegetable prices have dropped 13 per cent over the past year, according to Statistics Canada.(Seth Perlman/Associated Press)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Brookfield fund buys bathroom-fixtures company

A Quebec bathroom equipment and spa company taken private by pension funds and other investors in 2004 has sold most of its assets to a fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Maax Corp. said Thursday.

The Montreal-based company had been badly hurt by the decline in the U.S. housing market.

Maax said the Brookfield unit was buying the company for the amount of its debt and trade obligations.

The buyers in 2004 included J.W. Childs Associates L.P. of Boston, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and Borealis Capital Corp., a firm owned by OMERS, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Toronto businessman Lawrence Tanenbaum.

Gas-and-dash thefts on the rise, retailers say

Gas thieves are striking far more frequently, say station owners across the country as pump prices continue to rise.

Wayne Pace, who operates a service station Tantallon, N.S., says he's had to be even more vigilant lately about people who fill their tanks and take off without paying.

"It's become more of a problem now that the price of gas is going up," he said. "We're experiencing it now a couple of times a week versus a couple of times a year."

U.S. inflation hotter than expected

Rising prices for gasoline and energy pushed the rate of inflation in May in the United States ahead of economists' expectations.

Consumer prices were up by 0.6 per cent from April. Economists had been looking for an increase of 0.5 per cent.

May's increase was the largest one-month rise since November.

Gasoline prices were up by 5.7 per cent, while foods prices rose by 0.3 per cent on gains in the cost of beef and bakery products.

Grey Wolf rejects Precision bid

U.S. takeover target Grey Wolf Inc. has rejected an unsolicited bid from Calgary's Precision Drilling Trust.

The trust made a $1.6 billion US cash and paper offer for Grey Wolf on Wednesday, seeking to add Grey Wolf's 121 drilling rigs to its own fleet of 240 rigs.

Precision said its offer was better than the "merger of equals" that Grey Wolf announced with Basic Energy Services on April 21.

But on Thursday, Grey Wolf said its board had concluded that "Precision's offer is not superior to Grey Wolf's pending merger with Basic Energy Services Inc."

CAW holds 'solidarity march' in Oshawa to protest GM closing

CAW holds 'solidarity march' in Oshawa to protest GM closing Chris Buckley of CAW local 222 heads into a Whitby, Ont., court, where GM is seeking an injunction against the blockade of its Canadian headquarters in nearby Oshawa.(Mike Wise/CBC)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

U.S. retail sales surge in May on stimulus cheques

Cash registers hummed in the United States in May as retail sales shot up by one per cent, double what economists had been forecasting.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday that the retail activity for the month is the biggest increase since November 2007.

The increase came after the U.S. government issued 57 million rebate cheques to consumers to stimulate the economy.

Economists said the rebate cheques should give the economy a short-term boost.

Copyright law could result in police state: critics

Copyright law could result in police state: criticsMinister of Industry Jim Prentice says his copyright reform bill is 'made in Canada,' but critics say it has been crafted by U.S. lobbyists.(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Xceed might make money in 2nd half, CEO says

Xceed might make money in 2nd half, CEO saysThree-month TSX trading in Xceed Mortgage

Xceed Mortgage Corp. has shrunk dramatically in the wake of mortgage market problems and and is still reporting large losses, but it may make money in its second half after changing its business model, the Toronto-based company said Thursday.

Canaccord takes hit for ABCP

Canaccord takes hit for ABCPCanaccord three-month trading on the TSX

Canaccord Capital Inc. fell into the red for the quarter and year ended March 31 because of its decision to buy out clients who had purchased asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) from the broker.

Suncor to double Sarnia ethanol production

Suncor Energy is going to double production at its Sarnia, Ont., ethanol plant with a $120 million expansion, the company said Thursday.

When completed in late 2009, the plant will be able to produce 400 million litres a year, the company said.

The St. Clair Ethanol Plant, the largest in Canada, has been running since July 2006.

The company said the ethanol will offset 600,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, equal to taking 150,000 cars off the road.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trade surplus contracts in April

Canada's trade surplus for April slipped for the first time in four months, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

The surplus retreated to $5.1 billion in April from $5.7 billion in March, as the import growth outpaced the growth in exports.

Exports to the United States, Canada's top trading partner, increased for a fourth straight month, growing to $30.6 billion, their highest level since April 2007. Imports from the U.S. grew at a faster pace, cutting the trade surplus with the U.S. to $8.2 billion for April.

Housing prices up 5.2% in April, slowest rise in 2 years: StatsCan

Contractors' selling prices for new homes increased 5.2 per cent between April 2007 and this April, its slowest rate of increase in more than two years, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

"This was the third consecutive month in which the increase has decelerated, and the slowest rate of growth since September 2005, when year-over-year prices rose by 4.9 per cent," the federal agency said in its new housing price index report.

In monthly comparisons, prices did not change between March and April.

Oil prices surge again

A bigger-than-expected drop in U.S. crude supplies helped push up oil prices by more than $5 US a barrel on Wednesday.

The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said crude oil supplies dropped last week by 4.6 million barrels, surpassing the 1.4 million-barrel drop forecast by analysts surveyed by energy research firm Platts.

Investors reacted by sending light, sweet crude up by $5.07 to settle at $136.38 US a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Bank of Canada holds line on interest rates

The Bank of Canada gave the market a surprise on Tuesday as it left a key interest rate unchanged amid inflation worries.

The central bank left the overnight rate — what the country's big banks charge each other for overnight loans — steady at three per cent.

Many economists had forecast a cut of a quarter of a percentage point.

"The Bank of Canada proved today that it has a mind of its own," said Beata Caranci, the director of economic forecasting at TD Bank.

Canadian industries slash production capacity rate

Canadian industries slashed their production capacity in the first quarter, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

Industries operated at 79.8 per cent of their capacity in the first quarter, down 4.1 per cent from the same period a year ago and down two per cent to 81.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, the federal agency said in a release on industrial capacity utilization rates.

Analysts at BMO Capital Markets expected the rate to drop to 80.8 per cent in the quarter.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ottawa awards BP $1.2B in exploration permits in Beaufort Sea

Energy giant BP came out the big winner in the federal government's latest auction for oil and gas exploration leases in the Beaufort Sea, offering to spend nearly $1.2 billion to explore on the Arctic seabed.

BP Exploration Company Ltd. won three of five exploration leases announced late Friday by the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department.

The leases awarded to BP cover about 611,000 hectares of the Beaufort seabed, north of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., in an area believed to be rich in natural resources.

Commodity retreat drags TSX lower

Retreating prices for gold and oil pulled the S&P/TSX Composite index down more than 224 points on Tuesday.

The August gold futures contract fell $26.80 US to close at $867.90 US an ounce, while light, sweet crude oil for July delivery dropped $3.04 a barrel to settle at $131.31 US.

The S&P/TSX Composite was off 1.5 per cent to close at 14,736.2.

Among the sub-groups of the index, the gold group was off 5.4 per cent, while the materials group was down 3.6 per cent. The mining and energy groups were both down more than two per cent.

Canada getting iPhone on July 11

When Apple Inc.'s iPhone makes its long-awaited debut in Canada on July 11, it will be the new and improved version.

Canada getting iPhone on July 11The updated iPhone will allow users to track baseball scores in real time.(Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Political solution needed to save Oshawa jobs: CAW official

Political solution needed to save Oshawa jobs: CAW official Barry Arseneault directs traffic around a roadblock the Canadian Auto Workers set up outside the General Motors head office in Oshawa, Ont., on June 4. (J.P. Moczulski/Canadian Press)

Vale considering $15B US stock issue

Vale considering $15B US stock issueThree-month Vale trading on the NYSE

The Brazilian company that bought Canadian mining giant Inco in 2006 is considering a $15 billion US stock issue, it said Tuesday.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Markets expect another rate cut Tuesday

The Bank of Canada is widely expected to deliver another interest rate cut Tuesday morning amid signs that the economy is cooling.

Most analysts say the central bank will drop its key overnight lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 2.75 per cent and then put its recent rate-slashing campaign on hold.

A survey of 12 primary dealers by Reuters shows all are calling for a quarter-point rate cut, followed by a pause.

JumpTV, NeuLion to merge

Canadian internet television broadcaster JumpTV Inc. will merge with NeuLion Inc., a U.S. company controlled by Charles Wang, the firms said Monday.

Privately-held NeuLion, which is based in Plainview, N.Y., offers television programming over the internet, along with video streaming technology and other web services.

Toronto-based JumpTV will issue more than 49.5 million common shares, 1.8 million contingent shares, plus five million warrants to the shareholders of NeuLion as part of the merger.

TSX Group names American as new top executive

TSX Group names American as new top executiveTSX Group Inc. has named Thomas Kloet as its new chief executive officer, shuffling an American into the head role at Canada's biggest stock and derivatives exchange. (Canadian Press)

Hargrove rules out strike over Ontario GM plant closing

Hargrove rules out strike over Ontario GM plant closingA truck drives out of the blockade at General Motors Canadian headquarters in Oshawa, Ont., on June 7. (Aaron Harris/Canadian Press)

Housing starts stronger in May

Housing starts gained strength in May on a rebound in construction of single-family homes, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Monday.

Across the country, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 221,300 units in May, up from 213,900 units in April, CMHC said.

"Most of the increase reflected a rise in single starts, which in April had reached their lowest level since May 2001," said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC's market analysis centre.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

700 opposed to uranium mining show up at N.B. meeting

A near-capacity crowd turned out to a government-led information session Thursday night to show their opposition to any uranium exploration or mining whatsoever in southeast New Brunswick.

"Who here does not want a uranium exploration or mining? Please stand up now," one attendee asked the more than 700 people gathered at Moncton's Capital Theatre.

Moments later, after loud cheers and applause, he added, "Thank you very much. As a unit of measure, the record would reflect that it is unanimous."

Union vows to step up action against GM

Union vows to step up action against GMCanadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove talks on a cellphone before entering a meeting with General Motors executives in Detroit, Mich., Friday.(Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Canada, Colombia reach free-trade agreement

Canada has reached a free-trade agreement with Colombia that Ottawa says will improve market access for both nations' agricultural products, as well as industrial goods and services.

The deal "will expand Canada-Colombia trade and investment, and will help solidify ongoing efforts by the Government of Colombia to create a more prosperous, equitable and secure democracy," David Emerson, Canada's foreign affairs and international trade minister, said in a news release on Saturday.

RCMP uncover massive counterfeit cash operation

The RCMP says it has made the largest seizure of counterfeit money in 20 years after dismantling a plant north of Toronto and finding $4 million in phoney cash.

Two men have been charged in connection with the May 30 raid in Markham, Ont.

Police say they seized printing equipment and a huge quantity of fake $20 bills.

"Counterfeiting continues to de-stabilize Canada's economy, this seizure demonstrates the RCMP's commitment to ensuring Canada's economy is secure," said RCMP Insp. Brian Verheul in a news release.

U.S. unemployment jumps to 5.5%

The U.S. jobless rate jumped to 5.5 per cent in May, up from five per cent a month earlier, the U.S. Department of Labour said Friday.

The 0.5 per cent jump was far above the 5.1 per cent that analysts had been expecting, and was the biggest month-over-month increase since 1986.

A year earlier, the rate was 4.5 per cent. The number of people out of work in May was 8.5 million, up by 861,000 from April, and 1.6 million from May 2007.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lawyers for Conrad Black grilled by appeals court judges, observers say

Lawyers for imprisoned former media baron Conrad Black faced some tough questions by a panel of appeals court judges in Chicago Thursday as they tried to have his convictions for fraud and obstruction of justice overturned.

Lawyers for Conrad Black grilled by appeals court judges, observers say

Motorists feeling the pinch after oil prices surge

Canadian gas prices rose Saturday morning after oil finished the week at a record high, closing at $138.54 US a barrel.

Crude oil futures soared $10.75 US a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, an increase of 12 per cent in just two days, leading to higher prices at the pumps.

In some Canadian cities, gasoline prices rose four to 10 cents a litre overnight.

Many traders predict that oil will hit $150 US a barrel in the next month.

Oil futures race to record close above $138 US

Oil futures race to record close above $138 US S&P/TSX composite index 3-month chart

Oil prices surged more than $10 US a barrel Friday to new record highs amid bullish forecasts and Middle East tensions.

Disgraced Quebec financier seeks reduced fraud sentence

A Quebec judge will rule Friday whether a 12-year sentence imposed on former financier Vincent Lacroix is unreasonable and should be reduced.

Lacroix is currently serving his sentence for defrauding investors who parked their life savings in Norbourg Investments, the company he founded.

The sentence, handed down last January, is too harsh for the fraud charges that Lacroix was convicted on, according to Clément Montérosso, his attorney.

Split TV fund to reflect public, private broadcasters, urges CRTC

The Canadian Television Fund, a key source of funding for shows from The Trailer Park Boys to Little Mosque on the Prairie, should be split in two to reflect the different issues faced by public and private broadcasters, according to the CRTC.

The fund, which was created in 1996, should be split into private- and public-sector streams, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says in a report, submitted Thursday to Canadian Heritage Minister Josée Verner.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Unemployment rate unchanged in May, StatsCan says

The unemployment rate remained at 6.1 per cent in May, but unchanged from the month before, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

Employment rose by 8,400 jobs, just below expectations of a 10,000-job rise. That was down from gains of about 19,000 jobs in each of April and March.

Analysts said the job growth numbers showed underlying weakness, since all of the growth was due to a jump in the number of part-time positions. Full-time employment actually fell by 32,200.

U.S. home foreclosures hit another record

U.S. home foreclosures in the first three months of the year rose to all-time highs, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday.

Almost one in every 100 mortgages — 0.99 per cent — was in the foreclosure process during the first quarter. That compares with 0.58 per cent a year earlier.

The mortgage delinquency rate — loans at least 30 days overdue — rose to a record high of 6.35 per cent, seasonally adjusted. That's the highest rate since the association began reporting such loan figures in 1979. The delinquency rate was 4.84 per cent in the first quarter of 2007.

BCE dividend move might presage deal with bondholders

BCE dividend move might presage deal with bondholdersBCE three-month trading

The decision by BCE Inc. to defer payment of its second-quarter dividend has led to speculation that the company is considering a deal with the bondholders who have challenged a $51.7-billion buyout deal.

Yahoo fires back at Icahn

Yahoo fires back at IcahnYahoo says activist investor Carl Icahn has an "inaccurate interpretation" of its employee-retention plan.(Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

Yahoo Inc. has fired back at Carl Icahn, the activist shareholder who wants to sack its board of directors and CEO, saying he has no "credible" plan to operate the company.

Judge approves ABCP plan

An Ontario court has approved a revised deal to restructure $32 billion worth of asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) that has been in limbo since last year.

Justice Colin Campbell of the Ontario Superior Court accepted an amendment to the deal so some noteholders could sue ABCP dealers for fraud, a committee of investors said Thursday.

The plan is expected to be in place by the end of June, the Pan-Canadian Investors Committee for Third-Party Structured ABCP said in a news release.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Oil prices rise more than $5 a barrel

Oil prices jumped more than $5 US a barrel on Thursday as the U.S. dollar weakened.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the price of light, sweet crude for July delivery gained $5.49 US a barrel to close at $127.79 US.

The big rise in oil was driven by a retreat in the U.S. greenback against the euro after the head of the European Central Bank said interest rate increases could be coming.

The ECB's president, Jean-Claude Trichet, said some of the bank's governors favour an increase. He made the remark after the ECB left a key interest rate unchanged.

Ottawa may use green fund to help GM: Flaherty

The federal government may be able to use a multimillion-dollar green vehicle fund to entice General Motors to continue manufacturing cars at a plant slated for closing next year, according to the finance minister.

Jim Flaherty suggested Wednesday the Conservative government could put up money from its $250-million automotive innovation fund, meant to assist in the development of environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles, to help keep the Oshawa, Ont., pickup truck factory alive.

Copyright reform bill appears to be in limbo

Copyright reform bill appears to be in limboMinister of Industry Jim Prentice backtracked on copyright reform legislation in December.

An updated copyright bill that could impose serious penalties for illegal downloading is in limbo amid suggestions the Conservative government is hesitant to introduce the controversial legislation after being stung by public outrage last year.

Apartment vacancy rate dips to 2.6% in April

Fewer apartments were available for rent in April as vacancy rates dropped slightly across Canada to 2.6 per cent, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said Thursday.

In year-over-year comparisons, vacancy rates in April 2007 were 2.8 per cent.

Vacancy RatesRegion(population of 10,000+)April 2007 (%)April 2008 (%) N.L. 4.2 3.2 P.E.I. 5.7 4.9 Nova Scotia 3.8 3.4 New Brunswick 6.0 5.3 Quebec 2.4 2.5 Ontario 3.9 3.1 Manitoba 1.4 1.0 Saskatchewan 3.2 1.2Alberta0.92.9 British Columbia 1.21.1

Bubbles building in financial markets: billionaire Soros

Bubbles building in financial markets: billionaire SorosGeorge Soros during interview with the CBC(CBC)U.S. billionaire financier, author and philanthropist George Soros believes there are lots of bubbles building in financial markets, including one in oil.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bombardier restores dividend as profits triple

Bombardier restores dividend as profits tripleIn addition to commuter trains, Bombardier also makes corporate jets, like the Challenger 604, pictured here.(Bombardier)

CAW calls for $1.5B in funding for space industry

Canada's space sector requires $1.53 billion in new funding over the next five years to rebuild Canada's space capabilities, according to a report released Wednesday.

The study "Flying high: A plan to rebuild Canada's space capabilities," released by the Canadian Auto Workers and the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute for International Affairs, calls on the government to increase funding to the Canadian Space Agency to help keep the industry globally competitive.

Reitmans earnings flat for 1st quarter

Shares of Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. slipped almost seven per cent on Wednesday after the clothing retailer posted flat first-quarter income.

On the TSX, Reitmans stock closed down $1.27 at $16.99.

Earlier, the company said it made $18.4 million, or 26 cents a share, in the first quarter, essentially unchanged from the same quarter a year earlier.

The company's sales for the first quarter slipped one per cent to $228.3 million from $230.7 million of the previous year.

Number of carbon control plans a concern, Canada West says

It will be a headache for business if the western provinces end up with a variety of different rules for controlling carbon emissions, the head of a Calgary-based think tank says.

Recent moves by B.C. to adopt a carbon tax, Alberta and Saskatchewan agreeing to work on "carbon capture," and Manitoba and B.C. working on a carbon cap and credit-trading system had Canada West Foundation president Roger Gibbins wondering how industry will cope.

N.B. considers lower corporate, personal income taxes

The New Brunswick government has proposed a dramatic change to the provincial tax system.

Finance Minister Victor Boudreau released a discussion paper on Wednesday that contains a list of proposed taxation reforms.

The options include cutting personal and corporate income taxes by as much as $500 million annually and increasing the Harmonized Sales Tax by two per cent.

The proposal also raises the possibility of lowering the general corporate tax rate to five per cent from 13 per cent. There is also reference to a carbon tax.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

GM to halt production at Oshawa truck plant

GM to halt production at Oshawa truck plantRick Wagoner, chairman and CEO of General Motors, says higher gasoline prices have ushered in permanent changes to the auto industry.(Bradley C. Bower/Associated Press)

Fix 'ailing' pension system, Lamoureux urges

The federal government needs to fix Canada's "ailing" retirement savings system, a prominent former pension plan executive said Tuesday.

"Despite their many advantages as a retirement savings vehicle for Canadians, defined benefit plans continue to decline while governments stand by watching them disappear," said Claude Lamoureux, the recently retired CEO of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

Lamoureux noted that a third of Canadians have no pension at all while many of the rest aren't saving enough for retirement.

Outdated security systems leave personal data vulnerable: watchdog

Many Canadian companies continue to leave their customers' personal information vulnerable to theft, neglecting to bolster online security systems with basic upgrades, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner said in a report released Tuesday.

Privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said many companies continue to leave laptops unprotected without proper firewalls and encryption. She also noted a lack of proper privacy training leaves companies open to attacks.

Another strong month for auto sales in Canada

Canadian vehicle sales in May were the second best in the history of the industry, an auto industry analyst said Tuesday.

Consumers bought 184,467 cars and light trucks last month, according to figures from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. That's down by about a thousand from the monthly record set in May 2007.

GM Canada sales fell 19.8 per cent year-over-year, as truck sales plunged by almost a third. "May sales results continue to reflect a rapid accelerated shift in consumer demand for smaller, more fuel efficient small cars and crossovers as a result of rising fuel prices," said Marc Comeau, GM Canada's vice-president of sales, service and marketing.

Lululemon shares slip on profit forecast

Lululemon shares slip on profit forecastLululemon 3-month TSX chart

Shares of Lululemon Athletica slipped Tuesday after the yoga clothing retailer shaved its profit outlook for this year.

Biovail proxy fight gathers steam

Biovail proxy fight gathers steamBiovail 3-month TSX chart

Drug company Biovail Corp. fired back Tuesday at the slate of directors proposed by former chair Eugene Melnyk, and told shareholders to take no action yet in the boardroom fight.

Why the economic figures don't seem to add up

Why the economic figures don't seem to add upThe rising price of gasoline is leading Canadians to feel less confident about their futures, the Conference Board says. (CBC)

Liberal bill seeks to abolish cellphone surcharges

Liberal bill seeks to abolish cellphone surchargesLiberal MP David McGuinty wants to end "fictitious charges" on cellphones.(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Supreme Court agrees to hear BCE appeal

Supreme Court agrees to hear BCE appealBCE 3-month trading chart

The Supreme Court of Canada has decided it will hear an appeal of last month's court decision that blocked the $51.7-billion takeover of BCE.

Spectrum auction at $2B and counting

The second week of the auction of public airwaves — which is expected to resulted in new cellphone providers — kicked off on Monday, with at least $2 billion destined for government coffers.

After 16 rounds of bidding, the auction has already greatly surpassed the $1 billion to $1.5 billion many analysts had expected it would net. The auction is expected to last another few weeks.

The government in November gave potential new cellphone providers a break by reserving for them 40 per cent of the spectrum being auctioned off, meaning that Canada's big three incumbents — Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc. and Telus Corp. — are unable to bid. The remaining 60 per cent of the airwaves are open to all bidders.

Housing spending hits $19.8B in first quarter

Canadians spent $19.8 billion on housing through the first three months of this year, up 7.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2007, Statistics Canada said Monday.

The overall value includes spending on new housing construction, on renovations and on acquisition costs, which include sales tax, land development charges and fees and premiums for mortgage insurance.

Statistics Canada said that in the January-to-March quarter, new housing investment increased by 8.8 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2007 to $9.7 billion.

Consumer confidence wanes on gas-price hikes

Canadian consumer confidence stumbled in May, when gasoline prices shot to record highs, the Conference Board said Monday.

The Ottawa-based research group said its consumer confidence index fell seven points to 85.8 in May, the lowest level since the Conference Board of Canada said it switched to a monthly survey in December 2001.

Consumer optimism weakened in every part of the country, with Central and Eastern Canada showing the biggest declines.

Bell sued for throttling internet speeds

Bell sued for throttling internet speedsBell Canada's internet throttling practices have prompted a class-action lawsuit in Quebec, a CRTC investigation, a protest on Parliament Hill, a private member's bill in the House of Commons and a complaint with the federal privacy commissioner.(Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Ontario, Quebec unveil carbon cap-and-trade plan

The governments of Quebec and Ontario have formally agreed to work together to cut greenhouse gas emissions, set up a high-speed train service and further integrate their economies.

In the first significant move in the new initiative, Premier Jean Charest and his Ontario counterpart, Dalton McGuinty, on Monday unveiled a cap-and-trade protocol for atmospheric carbon in Quebec City after holding their first-ever joint provincial cabinet meeting.