TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed higher Friday after worries about the future of U.S. economic stimulus drove the TSX lower over the previous two sessions.The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 61.65 points to 12,701.63 with all sectors positive, except for tech stocks, while the TSX Venture Exchange advanced 10.71 points to 1,144.68.The Canadian dollar was down 0.2 of a cent at 97.96 cents US. It had earlier hit an eight-month low of 97.51 cents US amid data showing lower than expected retail sales and tame inflation figures.Retail sales fell 2.1% in December, led by a decrease in vehicle sales. That was much more than the 0.3% decline that economists had expected. The drop followed five consecutive monthly gains in retail sales.Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales decreased by 0.9%.Meanwhile, Canada’s already low inflation subsided further in January. Statistics Canada says the consumer price index rose 0.5% in January compared with a year earlier, a smaller increase than the 0.8% gain in December and the smallest increase since October 2009.A strong earnings report from tech giant Hewlett Packard helped push New York indexes well into positive territory after two days of declines, sparked by the release of minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting. They showed that some policy-makers were worried that the bank’s US$85 billion in monthly bond purchases could eventually unsettle financial markets or cause the central bank to take losses.The Fed’s bond purchases, commonly known as quantitative easing, are designed to boost the U.S. economy by increasing liquidity in financial markets.“It’s definitely been a positive in reflating asset prices including the stock market,” said Patrick Blais, managing director and portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.“But the Fed is cognizant that it needs a sustainable economic backdrop to retrench completely so we expect that the risk (of winding up QE) has arisen but it’s not a given, it’s not confirmed and will depend on the progression of economic fundamentals.”The Dow Jones industrials gained 119.95 points to 14,000.57, the Nasdaq was ahead 30.33 points to 3,161.82 and the S&P 500 index advanced 13.18 points to 1,515.6.Personal computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. on Thursday reported earnings of $1.2 billion, or 63 cents per share, down 16% from a year ago. Ex-items, HP would have earned 82 cents per share, well above the average estimate of 71 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet. Revenue fell six% to $28.4 billion, about $470 million above analysts’ projections.In a show of confidence, HP had provided an earnings forecast for the February-April quarter that was higher than analysts’ projections and its stock ran ahead 12.28% to US$19.20.Investor sentiment also got some lift from data showing that a key survey of German business optimism rose sharply in February. The Ifo index rose to 107.4 from 104.3 in January. It was the fourth monthly increase in a row, well above the 104.9 points expected by financial market analysts and supported the feeling that Europe’s biggest economy can avoid slipping into recession.Friday’s figure followed an in increase in the ZEW index based on surveys of investment analysts released Tuesday.Commodity prices were mixed following a string of steep losses.Commodities have been punished by a U.S. dollar which strengthened after the release of the Fed minutes on Wednesday. Also, oil prices had been undercut by data showing U.S. oil inventories rose last week by a much more than expected 4.14 million barrels.The April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange ticked 29 cents higher to US$92.71 a barrel after tumbling about US$4 over the previous two sessions. The energy sector gained 1.2% and Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) improved by 41 cents to C$32.78 and Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) gained 38 cents to $30.37.The base metals sector was up 1.16% while March copper was down two cents at US$3.53 a pound after losing almost 10 cents over the previous two sessions. Lundin Mining (TSX:LUN) climbed 26 cents to C$4.86 while Sherritt International (TSX:S) gained 17 cents to $5.59.Lift was also provided by the financial sector, up 0.49% as traders look ahead to earnings from most of the big Canadian banks next week. Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) climbed 40 cents to $63.11 while Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) was up 42 cents to $60.34.Telecoms also advanced with Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) ahead 68 cents to $48.85.The gold sector was up about 0.2% late in the morning as the April bullion contract declined for a third day, down $5.80 to US$1,572.80 an ounce. Iamgold Corp. (TSX:IMG) fell 36 cents to C$7.49 while Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) rose 31 cents to C$33.22.The latest declines in bullion prices were sparked by the Fed minutes because the central bank’s quantitative easing has supported gold. That is because the bond buying program has encouraged worries about rising inflation and gold is seen as a hedge against rising prices.The information technology sector was off 0.38% with BlackBerry (TSX:BB) down 65 cents to $13.48 after the stock was downgraded Friday to a sell rating from a neutral one by MKM Partners. It cited a lower likelihood of success for the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and lowered their price target from $12 to US$10 over the next 12 months.In other corporate news, after the markets closed Thursday, fertilizer giant Agrium Inc., (TSX:AGU) reported quarterly net earnings of $354 million, or $2.34 per share, beating expectations of $2.02 a share. Sales were $3.26 billion, in line with expectations and its shares fell $5.61 or 5.16% to C$103.14.
The Toronto stock market was lower after the U.S. Federal Reserve revealed concerns about how long to continue its open-ended stimulus program of bond purchases.The S&P/TSX composite index fell 51.42 points to 12,662.63. The Canadian dollar lost 0.18 of a cent to 98.12 cents US as traders avoided risk and avoided resource-based currencies such as the loonie.U.S. indexes were also in the red in the wake of the Wednesday release of minutes from the Fed’s last policy meeting.They showed some policymakers at the U.S. central bank were worried that the Fed’s US$85 billion in monthly bond purchases could eventually unsettle financial markets or cause the Fed to take losses. The purchases, commonly known as quantitative easing, are designed to boost the U.S. economy by increasing liquidity in financial markets.The Dow Jones industrials gave back 35.3 points to 13,892.24, the Nasdaq composite index fell 13.56 points to 3,150.85, while the S&P 500 index was down 6.7 points to 1,505.25.Oil lost $1.95 to US$93.27 on top of a $2 slide Wednesday.
TORONTO — Intact Financial Corp. will record about $270 million in expenses over two quarters as a result of several recent catastrophes including floods in Alberta and Toronto and the deadly Lac-Megantic train derailment in Quebec.The Toronto-based company, one of Canada’s largest property and casualty insurers, estimates it will record about $123 million or 92 cents per share in after-tax catastrophe losses in its second quarter.That will be mainly due to about $300 million of costs for Intact customers in Alberta following storms and flooding that swept through several communities.The financial blow to Intact will be softened by reinsurance — essentially insurance for insurance companies.The Alberta disaster, alone, will result in $105 million or 79 cents per share net of reinsurance in the second quarter ended June 30.In the third quarter, which began July 1, Intact estimates it will record an additional $134 million or $1.01 million in after-tax catastrophe losses.That will includes a $25 million cost associated with the Lac-Megantic train derailment that killed an estimated 47 people and devastated the Quebec city.The severe rain storm that impacted thousands of Intact customers in the Greater Toronto Area in early July resulted in an estimated $170 million of insurable damages, the company said.“The devastation brought on by recent flooding and torrential rain is unprecedented,” Charles Brindamour, Intact’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.“The scope of the damage and destruction that we have witnessed in recent weeks is a stark reminder that we must adapt the protection offered to Canadians to ensure it remains sustainable in light of the greater prevalence and severity of weather events.”Canadian Press
TORONTO — Lights! Fog! Action!In what will make for an even pricier night out at the movies, Cineplex is launching a new tier of big-screen experience that includes films augmented by piped-in scents and environmental effects like wind, snow and bubbles.Those are just a few of the promises of so-called 4DX technology, which will hit a Toronto cinema this summer.‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ helps propel Cineplex to record Q4 resultsHow Montreal-based D-BOX Technologies’ seats are rumbling their way into more cinemasDesigned to make high-octane blockbusters even more appealing, special theatres will have traditional seats replaced with chairs that move in sync with the action. Environmental effects will be programmed to kick in at moments that complement the film.It’s the latest cutting-edge technology being adopted by Hollywood in hopes of keeping moviegoers buying tickets — but the experience comes at a richer price.While Cineplex hasn’t decided how much it will charge customers, it says 4DX will be the most expensive ticket on its menu, which means it will run upwards of $24.The company plans to open its first completely redesigned 4DX theatre at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas and VIP in downtown Toronto.
These are indicative wholesale rates for foreign currency provided by the Bank of Canada on Tuesday. Quotations in Canadian funds.Australia dollar 0.9942Brazil real 0.3959China renminbi 0.1853Euro 1.4592Hong Kong dollar 0.160177India rupee 0.01943Indonesia rupiah 0.0000940Japan yen 0.01121Malaysia ringgit 0.2921Mexico peso 0.07047N.Z. dollar 0.9289Norway krone 0.1569Peruvian new sol 0.3851Russia rouble 0.02085Saudi riyal 0.3335Singapore dollar 0.9190South Africa rand 0.09593South Korean won 0.001119Sweden krona 0.1526Switzerland franc 1.3179Taiwanese dollar 0.04123Thailand baht 0.03738Turkey lira 0.3509U.K. pound 1.6319U.S. dollar 1.2507Vietnam dong 0.000055
VANCOUVER — A lawyer representing British Columbia in its fight against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion says the federal cabinet’s approval of the project is “lopsided” because it put Alberta’s economic needs ahead of B.C.’s concerns about oil spills.Thomas Berger said outside the Federal Court of Appeal on Thursday that the $7.4-billion project would disproportionately impact the interests of B.C. residents in the event of a marine spill of diluted bitumen.While Alberta would get the lion’s share of benefits through development of its oil resources and access to Pacific Rim markets, B.C. would bear the entire environmental risk, he told The Canadian Press in an interview.In its approval of the project last November, the governor in council breached its statutory duty to provide reasons for deciding it was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, Berger said on behalf of the attorney general of B.C., which is an intervener in the case.“The governor in council made its choice but it did not give any reasons. All we got was the conclusion. It’s like getting a judge’s verdict without getting any reasons,” Berger said.“I urged the court to rule that the cabinet had to obey the command of Parliament, which is the order in council must set out the reasons for making the order,” the former B.C. Supreme Court judge said.“I told the court, ‘This isn’t technical, it’s fundamental,’ ” Berger said.The federal government’s explanatory note accompanying the order in council approving Trans Mountain says detailed reasons for the decision are set out in four reports, including one by the National Energy Board.“The citizen shouldn’t have to search through hundreds of documents to find out the reason why the cabinet made the choice it did,” Berger said. “That’s why Parliament said cabinet’s reasons must be set out in the order in council.”Alberta, which favours the pipeline project on the grounds it would create jobs and investment opportunities, is scheduled to make its arguments in the Federal Court of Appeal next week.Several First Nations, two environmental groups and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby are also against the pipeline expansion that the federal government approved last November.Indigenous groups have maintained a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic would substantially increase the risks of diluted bitumen spills, with no known means of adequately cleaning it up, and put endangered southern resident killer whales in peril.First Nations groups also say the federal government failed to adequately consult with them or gain their consent for expanding the pipeline.Trans Mountain, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Canada, aims to double an existing Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline with nearly 1,000 more kilometres of pipeline in new and existing corridors.British Columbia’s former Liberal government supported the project, saying Kinder Morgan had met five government conditions including a revenue-sharing agreement worth up to $1-billion.However, the New Democrat government, which formed an alliance with the Green party to support its minority government this year, has said it would oppose the pipeline expansion.Earlier Thursday, TransCanada announced it had cancelled its plans for the $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline which was to carry oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries Quebec and New Brunswick.Last September, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned Ottawa’s approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, two years after the federal cabinet granted a permit— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
The Maldives on Thursday celebrated 47 years since it attained independence from the British rule amidst political tensions with the opposition claiming the country is sliding back from democracy.In a message to mark the Independence Day, President Mohamed Waheed said that peace will prevail in the troubled country and the Maldives will regain its good image, the president’s office said. A total of 458,068 tourist arrivals were registered from January to June 2012. This is an increase of 2.3 percent compared to the same period in 2011. (Xinhua) The MDP said that since the transfer of power on February 7, 2012 when former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned from office, the current government has detained or charged 19 MDP legislators. Waheed also said that the people in the Maldives have accepted change, a change which the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) however said was forced on the country. He also said that the MDP is disappointed with the lack of response from the international community on the situation in the Maldives which is witnessing the democratic gains achieved over the past three years slip away.On Wednesday the British minister for South Asia Alistair Burt said that efforts to restore calm and stability in the Maldives are being hampered by increasing political tension and escalating violence.“I hope that high level talks between political parties can start soon, and that these can identify peaceful ways through current difficulties,” he said. Nasheed had said at the time that he was forced to resign and has called for an independent investigation into the transfer of power and early presidential elections.“We urgently need to point out to the international community that the regime is intent on consolidating its position and skewing the playing field into such a shape that we will not be able to have a free and fair election at all, now or in 2013,” leader of the MDP Parliamentary Group, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, said in a statement emailed to Xinhua on Thursday. However despite the political tensions the Maldives Tourism Ministry on Thursday said that the country registered a 6.1 percent tourist arrival growth during June 2012 with 59,379 arrivals.
Both the Centre and Congress have taken various measures to protect the rights of Tamils there, he said. The Centre and Congress want Tamils to live safely and lead a secure life with equal rights in Sri Lanka, Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan said today.Vasan evaded a direct reply when asked about the ban on the conference of Tamil Eelam Supporters Association, convened by the forum’s founder leader and DMK chief M Karunanidhi tomorrow at Chennai, but said his party wanted all Tamils across the globe to be protected. Replying to a specific question on the conference, Vasan told reporters at the city airport on his way to Erode that the association also has the similar goal and fighting for the cause of well-being of Tamils in the Island Nation. Congress, a key ally of DMK in the ruling UPA, has dissociated itself from the conference. Police have refused permission for the TESO meet.To a question on corruption and agitation by Anna Hazare and yoga guru Ramdev, Vasan said people saw “the real face of Team Anna and they would also know the intention of Ramdev soon”. (PTI)
The navy found over 100 foreigners on a small boat stranded off the eastern seas last night, a navy spokesman said.Navy spokesman Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya told the Colombo Gazette that navy boats were deployed from Trincomalle and Galle after information came to light about the boat. When the navy reached the boat they found 138 foreigners cramped into a small boat which was not capable of handling the load. Among those on board were women and children, the navy spokesman said. He said that one person was also found dead.The passengers were suffering from dehydration and were admitted to the Oluvil hospital. The passengers were taken off the boat and transported to Oluvil where the foreigners were identified as Bangladeshi and Myanmar nationals. The navy spokesman said that investigations into the incident, including to find out where the foreigners were heading, was underway. (Colombo Gazette)Report by Easwaran Rutnam
The JVP is at the opposite end of the economic spectrum, has opposed privatization and UNP reforms in the past, supports a large role of the state, opposes foreign investment, and advocates for government welfare to protect society. Fonseka also supports providing 2,000 rupee monthly pensions to senior citizens (about $18 USD).Fonseka himself, however, prefers not to discuss future economic plans, the US cable added. The cable also quoted campaign strategist and economist Harsha de Silva as saying that Fonseka promised benefits to each economic segment of the population in order to gain votes. He has promised to increase the monthly salary of public servants by 10,000 rupees or approximately $ 90 USD per month (there are 1.2 million government employees). The United States had in 2010 felt that Sarath Fonseka had poor economic knowledge during the run-up to the 2010 Presidential elections.A leaked US cable, made public by Wikileaks, quoted the then US Deputy Chief of Mission in Sri Lanka Rebecca Cohn as saying that Fonseka is a military man who has publicly admitted that he has little knowledge of economic issues, and other than clamping down on corruption, he has no apparent economic program. Harsha De Silva, who is a prominent opposition economist, said that he was in charge of writing Fonseka’s economic manifesto for his possible administration, but it was an impossible task because the UNP and JVP are diametrically opposed.Instead of a positive economic agenda, De Silva recommended attacking President Rajapaksa for corruption and government waste, the cable said. (Colombo Gazette) The cable also said that during a lunch meeting Cohn had with UNP leader Ranil Wickramesinghe, his wife had said that Wickramesinghe and Fonseka should say something about the economy.However Wickramesinghe had demurred because the political parties backing Fonseka’s candidacy (primarily the liberal UNP and the leftist JVP) had completely different economic policies.Fonseka was a common candidate supported by the free market UNP and the far left JVP. The UNP has supported privatization of state industries, an open economy and an increased role for the private sector.
“I am confident the prosecutor general will press terrorism charges against Adeeb,” he added. The NIC had gathered enough evidence to win the case against the former vice president, he said.A total of eight individuals are in police custody over the blast, the commission said. Some, including three arrested over the sniper plot, have been released. (Colombo Gazette) Naseer, who heads the national inquiry commission on the boat blast, linked the September blast with the May Day plot and said: “All these instructions came from the same person, on the instructions of Ahmed Adeeb.” Adeeb remains the main suspect in the blast on Yameen’s speedboat in September, Naseer said. The alleged assassination plot has plunged the country into fresh crisis, with a purge of the security forces and discovery of massive embezzlement from state coffers. Detained former Maldives Vice President Ahmed Adeeb had brought in a Sri Lankan sniper to assassinate Maldives President Abdulla Yameen in October, the Maldives Independent quoted Maldives Home Minister Umar Naseer as saying.Speaking to the press today, Naseer also said that an inquiry into a blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat had revealed that an explosive device was prepared for a May Day rally and that the case involved the former vice president. He also alleged that Adeeb had brought in a Sri Lankan sniper to assassinate Yameen in October when the president escaped unharmed from the boat blast. Only First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim and two aides suffered minor injuries.Naseer said that forensic analysis links the presidential speedboat bomb with a second bomb found near the statehouse and a third bomb found in a cache of weapons submerged on a reef in November. He also claimed that the presidential speedboat bomb had been at a luxury government flat Adeeb owned at the Rehendhi complex.
Four people were injured when a train engine collided with a train near Meerigama today.The injured were admitted to hospital.
Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran, has appealed to the government to de-proscribe all the Tamil Diaspora organisations and stringently scrutinize only select individuals, the New Indian Express reported.Wigneswaran was speaking at a function in Jaffna to inaugurate a consular section of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry there. “Having been a lawyer for over 50 years and half that period as a Judge, I am quite conscious of the security concerns of the State. But we must stop looking at our people through a terrorist mindset. We must wean the diaspora to help our government which is cash strapped, grant them dual citizenship, and make use of their talents and wealth for our betterment,” the chief minister added. “Let me suggest not to embark on selective de-proscription but to de-proscribe all organizations and have a process of very stringent vetting of individuals coming over,” he said. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Deputy Foreign Minister Dr.Harsha de Silva were present at the occasion.Pointing to the selective de-proscription of persons and organisations, on the advice of certain interest groups, Wigneswaran said: “It would have been better if an independent official investigation had been conducted with prior criteria in place. Many feel that some of the proscribed persons and organisations still unreleased are victims of political bias and prejudice.” Wigneswaran further said that during his recent visits to the UK, US and recently Canada, he met the Tamil Diaspora and found that they were all keen to involve themselves in capacity development, investment promotion and cultural exchanges in Sri Lanka.“Most of them wish to do so within the integrity of the island. But they are reluctant to embark on a visit to Sri Lanka on account of the lingering concerns the government and its officials have regarding the Tamil Diaspora,” the chief minister pointed out. (Colombo Gazette)
The issue arose after the Editor of the Irudina newspaper, Wimalanath Weeraratne was sacked without any written explanation. The management of the Irudina newspaper filed a complaint at the Mount Lavinia police station saying the journalists had threatened other journalists at the newspaper. Weeraratne was however informed verbally that he was removed as he had no control over some of the articles published in the newspaper.The Editor was accused by the management of publishing several articles critical of the Government. A group of journalists and a media organisation linked to a top Government politician have filed police complaints against each other.The journalists attached to the Irudina newspaper filed the complaint at the Mount Lavinia police station alleging they had been arbitrarily locked out of office. Several media rights groups and civil society condemned the removal of Wimalanath Weeraratne as Editor without following due process. (Colombo Gazette)
The body of an unidentified male was found floating in the Beira Lake today.The police said the Navy had been called in to recover the body.
The hospital will consist of 200 beds and another 100 dialysis beds. The construction work of the hospital will commence before the end of this year.At present, around 6,500 kidney patients from the Polonnaruwa district and another 13,000 kidney patients from the Anuradhapura district undergo dialysis or require facilities for dialysis. (Colombo Gazette) The Chinese funding for the kidney hospital is a result of discussions held between Sirisena and Chinese President Xi Jinping during Sirisena’s official visit to China in 2015. The two countries had earlier signed the Memorandum of Understanding to build the hospital for kidney patients under a donation from the Government of China. Work on a 200 bed kidney hospital began in Polonnaruwa with the foundation stone being placed by President Maithripala Sirisena today.China is funding the construction of the specialised hospital to treat patients with kidney disease which recently affected rice farmers in Sri Lanka’s north central region.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has sought the opinion of the General Secretary of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Mahinda Amaraweera on appointing Parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardena the leader of the opposition.The Speaker has requested Amaraweera to state the position of the party since a request has been put forward by several MPs including some from the UPFA. The opposition leader at present is Tamil National Alliance leader R. Sampanthan.However the joint opposition has been pushing for Gunawardene to be given the post saying Sampanthan has been more a voice for the Government and not the opposition. (Colombo Gazette)
Meanwhile the Police said that the IGP has instructed all senior Police officers to ensure law and order is maintained in their respective division. President Maithripala Sirisena held a Security Council meeting today after the Supreme Court issued a stay order on the President’s decision to dissolve Parliament.The Defence Secretary, commanders of the Security Forces and Chief of Defence Staff and the Foreign Secretary attended the meeting. The President’s office said that President Sirisena instructed the Police to ensure law and order in maintained and that the peaceful environment continues. On Sunday President Maithripala Sirisena had said that a threat of violence on November 14th (tomorrow) was one of the reasons for his decision to dissolve Parliament. (Colombo Gazette)
The scheme was introduced, by the Ministry of Defence on the instructions of the Ministerof Defence, President Maithreepala Sirisena on the 20th of February, with an aim to stop deforestation, prevent various rackets using chainsaw machines, and regulate felling trees. After the registration, a special identification license and a number plate will be issued. (Colombo Gazette) The registration process commenced on the 20th of February and was to close on the 28th of February 2019 but, the closing date was extended due to public requests. The closing date for registration of all chainsaw machines in use has been extended until 15th March 2019, the Ministry of Defence said today.As a result, those who use chainsaw machines for businesses or personal purpose in the government, semi-government and private sector can obtain a registration certificate from the nearest police station until that date.