Today’s news: Trending business stories for December 22, 2023

The latest business news as it happens

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Top story

Ottawa posts $15.1-billion deficit between April and October

The federal government recorded a budgetary deficit of $15.1 billion between April and October, $7 billion of which was in October.

In its monthly fiscal monitor, the finance department said the deficit between April and October compared with a deficit of $0.2 billion during the same period last year.

Government revenues increased by $3 billion, or 1.2 per cent, a reflection of higher interest revenues and other non-tax revenues.

Program expenses excluding net actuarial losses were up $11.8 billion, or 5.4 per cent, from the same period a year earlier, as spending across all major categories rose.

Public debt charges were up $7.5 billion, or 38.1 per cent, largely due to higher interest rates but partly offset by lower consumer price index adjustments on real return bonds.

Net actuarial losses decreased by $1.3 billion, or 23.2 per cent, compared with the same period last year.

The Canadian Press


4:44 p.m.

Market close: TSX rises more than 100 points, U.S. stock markets mixed

stock chart

Strength in health care stocks helped lift Canada’s main stock index more than 100 points, while U.S. markets ended the day mixed.

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The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 115.46 points at 20,881.19.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 18.38 points at 37,385.97. The S&P 500 index was up 7.88 points at 4,754.63, while the Nasdaq composite was up 29.11 points at 14,992.97.

The Canadian dollar traded for 75.43 cents U.S. compared with 75.13 cents U.S. on Thursday.

The February crude oil contract was down 33 cents at US$73.56 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was up three cents at US$2.49 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was up US$17.80 at US$2,069.10 an ounce and the March copper contract was down a penny at US$3.91 a pound.

The Canadian Press


3:30 p.m.

First Quantum says Panama hasn’t given legal basis to close copper mine

First Quantum Minerals Ltd.’s Cobre Panama copper mine.
First Quantum Minerals Ltd.’s Cobre Panama copper mine. Photo by Abraham Teran/The Canadian Press/AP files

Panama’s government hasn’t provided a legal basis to First Quantum Minerals Ltd. for pursuing a closure plan for its giant copper mine in the country, according to the metals producer.

First Quantum has been unable to formally engage with the Central American government to clarify the legal situation and associated environmental obligations for its Cobre Panama mine, the Vancouver-based company said Friday in a statement.

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First Quantum’s statement comes two days after Panama’s Ministry of Commerce and Industries said it was pursuing a closure plan that will take several months to develop, according to the company. That plan will include a temporary phase of environmental preservation and safe management, conducting audits and formation of a multidisciplinary expert panel, the statement said. The closure plan is expected to be presented in June 2024.

Panama’s decision to close the massive mine in the wake of countrywide protests has sent shock waves through the mining industry and helped wipe out more than half of First Quantum’s market value. The company’s stock rose 5.7 per cent to $11.23 at 2:47 p.m. in Toronto.

Bloomberg


Noon

Stock markets gain with TSX up 150 points at midday

Stock markets midday December 22, 2023

Gains in financial and base metals stocks helped lift Canada’s main stock index by more than 100 points in late-morning trading, while U.S. stock markets also rose.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 150.50 points at 20,916.23.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 35.58 points at 37,439.93. The S&P 500 index was up 15.46 points at 4,762.21, while the Nasdaq composite was up 44.85 points at 15,008.71.

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The Canadian dollar traded for 75.36 cents U.S. compared with 75.13 cents U.S. on Thursday.

The February crude oil contract was down 27 cents at US$73.62 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was down two cents at US$2.44 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was up US$21.70 at US$2,073 an ounce and the March copper contract was down a penny at US$3.91 a pound.

The Canadian Press


9:45 a.m.

Stock markets edge up on U.S. inflation data

A sign at the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street outside the New York Stock Exchange.
A sign at the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street outside the New York Stock Exchange. Photo by Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo files

Wall Street drifted toward record heights Friday following reports showing inflation on the way down and the economy potentially on the way up.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4 per cent in early trading, just 0.7 per cent below its record set nearly two years ago. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75 points, or 0.2 per cent, as of 9:40 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite inched 0.3 per cent higher.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 0.70 per cent in early trading.

The Associated Press


9 a.m.

Canadian GDP flat in October, rises slightly in November

Canada's manufacturing sector decreased in October.
Canada’s manufacturing sector decreased in October. Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

The economy remained flat in October for the third straight month as services-producing industries edged 0.1 per cent higher, while goods-producing industries were unchanged, Statistics Canada said Friday.

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It forecast real gross domestic product for November increased 0.1 per cent, with estimated gains in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting partially offset by decreases in retail trade.

For October, the manufacturing sector declined 0.6 per cent and wholesale trade contracted 0.7 per cent, while retail trade grew 1.2 per cent and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction saw a one per cent gain.

The transportation and warehousing sector declined 0.2 per cent in October as the St. Lawrence Seaway strike decreased activity in some transportation subsectors.

That included a 3.7 per cent contraction in water transportation, which was down for the first time since the B.C. port strike in July, while trucking transportation was down 0.9 per cent as many trucks poised to carry grain were sidelined during the work stoppage.

Real estate agent and broker activities were down 6.8 per cent in October, the largest monthly decrease since April 2022, as a majority of Canada’s largest housing markets continued to cool off.

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The Canadian Press

Read more: Canada’s economy flatlines, but soft landing still possible


7:30 a.m.

Air Canada hit with $97,500 penalty by transportation agency over disability violations

The Canadian Transportation Agency has issued a $97,500 penalty to Air Canada for violating the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations.
The Canadian Transportation Agency has issued a $97,500 penalty to Air Canada for violating the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations. Photo by Christinne Muschi/Bloomberg

The Canadian Transportation Agency says it’s issued a $97,500 penalty to Air Canada for violating the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations.

The penalty of $97,500 is for several violations of the regulations.

The agency said that on August 30, Air Canada failed to assist a wheelchair user to disembark its plane.

The passenger, who has spastic cerebral palsy and can’t move his legs, was forced to disembark on his own.

As well, the CTA said Air Canada failed to ensure that its personnel periodically checked in on the passenger while he was waiting in the terminal.

Air Canada acknowledged in November that it violated Canadian disability regulations, and apologized to a British Columbia man who was forced to drag himself off a flight in Las Vegas this summer.

The Canadian Press


Stock markets before the opening bell

Stock markets, December 22, 2023

United States equity futures edged lower and bond yields eased Friday ahead of the release of a crucial U.S. inflation gauge that could cement the case for U.S. Federal Reserve interest-rate cuts from March.

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Ten-year U.S. Treasury yields dropped three basis points, holding just off five-month troughs, while British government borrowing costs also slipped to approach eight-month lows after data showed the U.K. economy unexpectedly shrank in the third quarter.

While markets have rallied in recent weeks off the mounting wagers on central bank policy easing, the U.K. figures will increase alarm over slowing economic growth across the developed world. Thursday’s downward revision to U.S. third-quarter GDP and weak results at sports apparel giant Nike Inc. are underscoring those concerns.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed up 164.92 points at 20,765.73 on Thursday.

Bloomberg


What to watch today

Canadian monthly real GDP for October will be released this morning. Ottawa’s fiscal monitor report is also expected. In the United States, data releases include personal income and consumption for November, durable goods orders, new home sales and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.

Related Stories

Need a refresher on yesterday’s top headlines? Get caught up here.

Additional reporting by The Canadian Press, Associated Press and Bloomberg


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