Today’s news: Trending business stories for February 14, 2024

The latest business news as it happens

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Federal pharmacare deal hung up on number of drugs to cover

Pharmacare negotiations between the Liberals and New Democratic Party are on a knife’s edge, and the main point of contention is the number of drugs they plan to start with.

Two sources with knowledge of the talks say if the parties reach a deal, they plan to begin by launching with a select few drug categories while they continue to formulate a more robust national drug plan.

The parties have already agreed to cover birth control through a single-payer program in the first go around, and they are also in talks to include diabetes drugs in the program.

The sources say the NDP is pushing for more drug categories to be included, but the Liberals have raised concerns about costs.

The Liberals must table legislation by March 1 if they hope to keep their political pact with the NDP and secure the opposition party’s support on key votes until the next federal election.

The parties have been trying to devise language in the bill that would create progress without ultimately locking the government into a program expected to cost roughly $40 billion a year once it is fully implemented.

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— The Canadian Press

4:40 p.m.

Market close: TSX gains more than 300 points, U.S. markets also rise

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Canada’s main stock index gained more than 300 points on broad-based strength led by financial and industrial stocks, while U.S. markets also rose to take back some of their losses from the previous day.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 304.43 points at 20,889.40.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 151.52 points at 38,424.27. The S&P 500 index was up 47.45 points at 5,000.62, while the Nasdaq composite was up 203.55 points at 15,859.15.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.80 cents U.S. compared with 73.77 cents U.S. on Tuesday.

The March crude oil contract was down US$1.23 cents at US$76.64 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down eight cents at US$1.61 per mmBTU.

The April gold contract was down US$2.90 at US$2,004.30 an ounce and the March copper contract was down a penny at US$3.70 a pound.

The Canadian Press


Midday markets: TSX rebounds almost 200 points, U.S. stocks find their footing

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Canada’s main stock index was up almost 200 points in early-afternoon trading as it regained some of the ground it lost on Tuesday when it plunged nearly 500 points.

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The S&P/TSX composite index was up 180.91 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 20,762.02.

Wall Street traders reeling from an unexpected pickup in United States inflation sent stocks mostly higher on Wednesday.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.03 per cent at 38,263.65. The S&P 500 index was up 0.14 per cent at 4,960.28, while the Nasdaq composite was up 0.45 per cent at 15,727.29.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.79 cents US, up 0.13 per cent, compared with 73.77 cents US on Tuesday.

The March crude oil contract was down 0.73 per cent at US$77.30 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down seven cents at US$1.62 per mmBTU.

The April gold contract was down 0.12 per cent at US$2,004.80 an ounce and the March copper contract was down less than a penny at US$3.71 a pound.

— The Canadian Press, Bloomberg

11:32 a.m.

Earnings roundup: CAE, Barrick Gold report

CAE Inc. reported its third-quarter profit fell compared with a year ago even as its revenue rose more than 10 per cent.

The flight simulator company says it earned net income attributable to equity holders of $56.5 million or 17 cents per diluted share for the quarter, down from $78.1 million or 25 cents per diluted share a year earlier.

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On an adjusted basis, CAE says it earned 24 cents per share in its latest quarter, down from 27 cents per share a year earlier.

Revenue totalled $1.09 billion, up from $969.9 million a year earlier.

The increase came as revenue for CAE’s civil aviation business totalled $622.1 million, up from $517.4 million.

Defence and security revenue amounted to $472.4 million, up from $452.5 million a year earlier.

Bars of gold
Barrick Gold reported earnings that beat analyst estimates as the miner’s realized gold price rose to US$1,948 per ounce for the year, up from US$1,795 per ounce in 2022 Photo by HO/AFP/Getty Images

Barrick Gold Corp. reported a profit attributable to equity holders of US$1.27 billion for 2023, up from US$432 million a year earlier.

The gold miner, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says the profit amounted to 72 cents US per share for the year, up from 24 cents US per share a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, Barrick says it earned 84 cents US per share for 2023, up from an adjusted profit of 75 cents US per share in 2022.

Revenue for 2023 totalled US$11.40 billion, up from US$11.01 billion in 2022.

The increase came as the miner’s realized gold price rose to US$1,948 per ounce for the year, up from US$1,795 per ounce in 2022, while its realized copper price held steady at US$3.85 per pound.

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Production for the year totalled 4.05 million ounces of gold and 420 million pounds of copper compared with 4.14 million ounce of gold and 440 million pounds of copper in 2022.

— The Canadian Press

11:30 a.m.

Cap on international study permits could slow rental demand increase by 50%, RBC says

For rent sign
A cap on the number of international study permits could help slow deamand for housing, and RBC report says. Photo by Jim Wells/Postmedia

Royal Bank of Canada says the recently announced cap on new study permits won’t lead to an outright decrease in demand for rental housing from international students this year.

But a new report from RBC about the cap finds the expected increase in rental demand from international students could fall by about 50 per cent as a result of the policy.

Ottawa announced a temporary cap on new study permits over the next two years as it tries to get a handle on sharp growth in international student enrolments at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

The number of new visas handed out this year will be capped at 364,000, a 35 per cent decrease from the nearly 560,000 issued last year.

RBC says if the cap for this year is extended beyond 2025, it would lead to a decline in the number of international students in the country.

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The report says that would relieve pressure on the rental market more meaningfully.

Read the full story.

— The Canadian Press

10:27 a.m.

January homes sales rise 22% from year ago

Home for sale in Toronto
A real estate sale sign stands in front of a home in a west-end Toronto neighbourhood. Photo by Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press

The Canadian Real Estate Association says January home sales jumped 22 per cent compared with a year ago, the largest year-over-year gain since May 2021.

The association says the increase reflected weakness last year which saw the worst start to almost any year in the past two decades.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, CREA says home sales in January were up 3.7 per cent when compared with December 2023.

CREA senior economist Shaun Cathcart says trends suggest a market that is starting to turn a corner but is still working through the weakness of the last two years.

The number of newly listed properties was up 1.5 per cent month-over-month.

The actual national average home price was $659,395 in January, up 7.6 per cent from January 2023.

— The Canadian Press

Read more: Housing market ‘starting to turn a corner’ as national sales jump in January

10:00 a.m.

Markets open: Stocks rebound from Tuesday’s rout over U.S. inflation numbers

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New York Stock Exchange
Markets rebounded following deep losses on Tuesday. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/The Associated Press

Wall Street traders reeling from an unexpected pickup in U.S. inflation sent stocks higher on Wednesday.

Equities rebounded after a slide triggered by a reset in United States Federal Reserve rate expectations — and amplified by moves in derivatives markets. That was ahead of an expiration of VIX contracts that drove the so called “fear gauge” to its highest since November. Treasuries were mixed, with two-year yields dropping and 30-year bond rates edging up.

“Investors should expect continued volatility as the market sorts out the continued uncertainty over how the Federal Reserve will respond to the ongoing inflation situation,” said Jeremy Straub at Coastal Wealth.“The stock market never moves higher without fits and starts along the way.”

The S&P 500 was up 0.54 per cent at 4,979.19. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.17 per cent at 38,339.78 while the Nasdaq composite was up 0.75 per cent at 15,773.38. Treasury 10-year yields fell two basis points to 4.29 per cent. The U.S. dollar fluctuated. Bitcoin climbed past US$51,000 in a broad cryptocurrency rally that saw ether, the second-biggest token, advance back to where it was before the TerraUSD stablecoin collapsed almost two years ago.

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In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 0.79 per cent at 20,748.24.

— Bloomberg

7:30 a.m.

BCE CEO, top executives called to testify in Ottawa over job cuts

BCE CEO Mirko Bibic is among executives who have been called to testify in front of the House of Commons heritage committee regarding the company's job cuts.
BCE CEO Mirko Bibic is among executives who have been called to testify in front of the House of Commons heritage committee regarding the company’s job cuts. Photo by Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Members of Parliament have invited several top executives from BCE Inc. and Bell Canada to testify later this month about the company’s decision to cut about nine per cent of its workforce this year.

The House of Commons heritage committee has agreed to invite BCE chief executive Mirko Bibic to address the cuts, which include impacts on newsrooms across the country.

The committee also agreed to invite Bell Media president Sean Cohan and the parent company’s chief financial officer Curtis Millen, along with a handful of others.

The Liberal motion to invite the executives on Feb. 29 was supported by the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, with the Conservatives on the committee abstaining from voting.

BCE Inc., the parent company of Bell Media, announced last week it is cutting its workforce by 4,800 positions, ending multiple television newscasts and selling off 45 of its 103 radio stations.

The company blamed its cuts on the federal government and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, saying Ottawa took too long to provide relief to media companies in crisis.

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— The Canadian Press

Stock markets before the opening bell

Stock markets February 14, 2024

Global shares were mixed on Wednesday after disappointingly high U.S. inflation data sent stocks sliding on Wall Street and raised prospects that interest rates will remain elevated for longer.

France’s CAC 40 gained nearly 0.2 per cent in early trading to 7,637.28, while Germany’s DAX added 0.1 per cent to 16,891.35. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.5 per cent to 7,547.62.

The future for the S&P 500 was up 0.2 per cent and that for the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.1 per cent.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 2.29 per cent on Tuesday.

— The Associated Press

What to watch today

Bank of Canada deputy governor Royce Mendes will participate in a panel discussion about the cost of living, housing and monetary policy at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont.

A hearing takes place before the Competition Tribunal between the Commissioner of Competition vs. Cineplex Inc. in a deceptive marketing practices case.

Minister of Labour and Minister for Seniors Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, Minister of National Revenue Marie-Claude Bibeau, and Minister of Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings, will provide an update on affordability measures for Canadians.

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The Union of B.C. Municipalities holds a housing summit in Vancouver.

Companies reporting earnings today include Barrick Gold Corp., Manulife Financial Corp., Great-West Lifeco Inc., West Fraser Tiber Co. Ltd., Kinross Gold Corp., Cisco Inc. and Sony Corp.

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Additional reporting by The Canadian Press, Associated Press and Bloomberg

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