Today’s news: Trending business stories for January 17, 2024

The latest business news as it happens

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Top story

CEO pay in oil and gas sector jumps double-digits on surging profits: report

A new report says executive pay in the oil and gas sector is on a sharp rise as the sector continues its post-pandemic resurgence.

The Bedford Consulting Group says total compensation for CEOs grew in almost all asset classes at 143 companies in Canada and the United States.

Chief executives’ total compensation ranged from a median $425,255 at companies with total assets under $100 million to $16.6 million at companies with total assets topping $30 billion.

Five of the seven company asset tiers laid out in the report saw median CEO compensation rise by at least 20 per cent in 2022 year-over-year.

Bedford managing partner Frank Galati attributes the increase to the industry’s “strong position,” as energy demand rebounded alongside a slew of new export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

Bedford also says that despite steps toward greater diversity on company boards, only 3.2 per cent of CEOs in the sector identified as female.

The Canadian Press

Read the full story.


4:42 p.m.

Market close: TSX down more than 250 points, U.S. stock markets also lower

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Canada’s main stock index fell more than 250 points in a broad-based decline, while U.S. stock markets also fell.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 253.07 points at 20,695.02.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 94.45 points at 37,266.67. The S&P 500 index was down 26.77 points at 4,739.21, while the Nasdaq composite was down 88.72 points at 14,855.62.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73.95 cents U.S. compared with 74.17 cents U.S. on Tuesday.

The March crude contract was down four cents at US$72.48 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was down three cents at US$2.87 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was down US$23.70 at US$2,006.50 an ounce and the March copper contract was down three cents at US$3.73 a pound.

The Canadian Press


4:05 p.m.

Housing minister warns against resistance to ending exclusionary zoning

Housing Minister Sean Fraser following a meeting in Halifax on Jan. 15.
Housing Minister Sean Fraser following a meeting in Halifax on Jan. 15. Photo by Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Canada’s Housing Minister is warning that municipalities without a ban on exclusionary zoning will not succeed with applications for federal housing accelerator funding.

Speaking Wednesday at an Empire Club of Canada luncheon in Toronto, Sean Fraser said a willingness to adopt zoning reforms has been key for the 19 communities that signed deals with Ottawa.

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Fraser says the federal government has seen “a change in approach overnight” on the part of cities that were initially resistant to such changes, as competition for the money has prompted some jurisdictions to become more open to reform.

The Housing Accelerator Fund, which is meant to spur the creation of housing supply, includes $4 billion in federal funding for Canadian municipalities and Indigenous governments.

Fund administrator Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has said an end to exclusionary zoning is among best practices for successful applications.

That includes getting rid of low-density zoning and regulations that exclude affordable and social housing in residential areas, and instead allowing mixed-use development and high-density residential within proximity to urban cores and transit corridors.

The Canadian Press


1:18 p.m.

Businesses have until Thursday to repay CEBA loans and receive partial forgiveness

A pedestrian walking his dog walks past a store on Toronto’s Dundas Street West stating 'CEBA Won’t Help Us' during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
A pedestrian walking his dog walks past a store on Toronto’s Dundas Street West stating ‘CEBA Won’t Help Us’ during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Photo by Peter J Thompson/National Post files

Thursday will mark the deadline for Canadian businesses to repay pandemic loans and receive partial forgiveness.

Business groups say that will spell closure for thousands of struggling firms.

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Almost 900,000 businesses and non-profits received a Canada Emergency Business Account loan during the COVID-19 pandemic, getting up to $60,000 in interest-free loans to help them survive.

Up to one-third of the loans could be forgiven if the outstanding amount is repaid by Thursday — otherwise, the debt will be converted into a three-year loan with five per cent annual interest.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Restaurants Canada have both called for the deadline to be extended again.

CFIB president Dan Kelly says in a press release that for many businesses, this deadline will be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

The Canadian Press


12:11 p.m.

Midday markets: TSX falls more than 300 points

Market chart

Canada’s main stock index was down more than 300 points in a broad-based decline, while U.S. stock markets also fell in late-morning trading.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 327.31 points, 1.58 per cent at 20,616.47.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 15.86 points at 37,345.26. The S&P 500 index was down 23.08 points at 4,742.90, while the Nasdaq composite was down 125.61 points at 14,818.74.

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Stocks joined losses in risk assets as bond yields climbed on speculation the United States Federal Reserve will be in no rush to cut interest rates as the economy shows signs of resilience.

The Canadian Press, Bloomberg


10:39 a.m.

Suez Canal traffic drops to lowest level since 2021 blockage by giant container ship

Ever Given ship in Suez Canal in 2021
An excavator attempts to free stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, after it ran aground, in Suez Canal, Egypt March 25, 2021. Photo by Suez Canal Authority/Handout via REUTERS

Commercial ship transits through the Suez Canal dropped to the lowest level since the Ever Given blocked the waterway nearly three years ago, highlighting the extent to which attacks on vessels near the Red Sea are redirecting global trade to a longer, costlier route.

According to a data platform maintained by the International Monetary Fund and Oxford University, the seven-day moving average of daily Suez crossings by bulk cargo ships, container carriers and tankers fell to 49 as of Sunday. That’s down from a 2023 daily peak of 83 transits in late June, and lower than the seven-day average a year earlier of 70 transits.

It’s also the lightest traffic flow through Suez since early April 2021 — just after the massive container carrier wedged itself between the canal’s banks for almost a week in late-March 2021, rattling supply chains for months as idling ships scrambled to get back on schedule.

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The data also show a corresponding rise in the number of ships passing by the Cape of Good Hope near the southern tip of Africa.

As for the Ever Given, ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed its most recent position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, heading east toward Sri Lanka after taking the southern route from northern Europe on a journey that began just after the widespread diversions started in mid-December.

Bloomberg


10:02 a.m.

Rogers sisters resign from company board as part of private settlement

Melinda Rogers-Hixon and Martha Rogers
Melinda Rogers-Hixon, left, and Martha Rogers have resigned from the board of directors of Rogers Communications, the company founded by their father. Photo by Della Rollins/Bloomberg, handout

Two members of the Rogers family who had opposed their brother Edward’s plan to replace former chief executive Joe Natale with Tony Staffieri have announced their retirement from the company’s board of directors.

Rogers Communications Inc. says the decision by Melinda Rogers-Hixon and Martha Rogers is part of a private settlement between members of the Rogers family.

The sisters say in a joint statement that they believe it is the “appropriate time” to retire from the board “with our family differences now settled.”

Chair Edward Rogers thanked them for their contributions to the company in a statement, saying their dedication “has been integral to the company’s growth.”

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Melinda Rogers-Hixon joined the Rogers board in 2002 and became deputy chair in 2018, having spent 15 years in management at the company, while Martha Rogers joined the board in 2008 and has served as chair of the ESG committee since 2021.

The siblings were at the centre of a power struggle in 2021, when Edward wanted Natale replaced with Staffieri, the company’s former chief financial officer, while his mother, Loretta Rogers, and his sisters opposed the plan.

Natale sued the company for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract last year. The claim has not been tested in court.

The Canadian Press

Read more: Rogers siblings settle bitter family feud as sisters retire from board


8:55 a.m.

Jimmy John’s to expand into Canada

Jimmy John's sandwich chain
U.S. sandwich chain Jimmy John’s, shown in this handout photo, is set to cross the border for the first time through an expansion that will start with a location in the Greater Toronto Area that will open by mid-year. Photo by HO /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canadian sandwich lovers will soon have a new spot to stop.

United States sandwich chain Jimmy John’s is set to cross the border for the first time with an expansion that will start with a location in the Greater Toronto Area opening in mid-2024.

Its exact whereabouts have yet to be announced, but more locations will follow throughout Canada, said Michael Haley, president and managing director of international for Jimmy John’s parent company Inspire Brands.

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“We won’t publicly announce the number, but…we’re approaching 3,000 in the U.S. and we have amazing runway to grow, so you could easily do that and more in Canada over a long period of time,” he said.

Inspire Brands, which is also behind Arby’s, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin’ and Sonic, will use Canadian franchisor Foodtastic Inc. to launch Jimmy John’s in Canada.

Foodtastic has more than 1,100 restaurants across brands including Milestones, Freshii and Quesada.

Jimmy John’s is best known in the U.S. for its customizable submarine-style sandwiches made on French or sliced wheat bread. Diners can also opt for wraps or an unwich, a sandwich which uses lettuce in lieu of a bun.

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— The Canadian Press


7:30 a.m.

Canada's federal government has produced a list of dozens of foreign institutes, schools and laboratories it says are linked to entities that might pose a risk to national security.
Canada’s federal government has produced a list of dozens of foreign institutes, schools and laboratories it says are linked to entities that might pose a risk to national security. Photo by Adrian Wyld /The Canadian Press

Canada tightens grip on home-grown research

Canada has unveiled new rules aimed at preventing sensitive technological research developed in the country from being transferred to China, Iran or Russia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government yesterday produced a list of dozens of foreign institutes, schools and laboratories it says are linked to entities that might pose a risk to Canada’s national security.

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The government won’t finance sensitive research projects — including those related to artificial intelligence, advanced energy technology and aerospace and satellite systems — if they’re affiliated in any way with the listed institutions.

The new rules establish a list of sensitive research areas, such as advanced weapons, digital infrastructure and life-science technology. Any project in those fields that’s receiving money from one of the listed institutes would be ineligible for a Canadian government grant.

The organizations are primarily based in China, but the list also includes several from Russia and Iran.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Wednesday that Canada was using national security as an excuse to suppress Chinese universities and scientific institutions. “This decision is not wise,” she said.

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— Laura Dhillon Kane, Bloomberg


Stock markets before the opening bell

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Financial Post

Stock futures are falling this morning continuing yesterday’s selloff as central bankers push back against market bets for interest rate cuts.

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Market pricing for a Federal Reserve rate cut by March dropped to about 65 per cent from 80 per cent after Fed governor Christopher Waller urged caution on the pace of easing on Tuesday.

The Europeans joined the fray this morning when European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde and governing council member Klaas Knot warned that aggressive bets on interest-rate cuts aren’t helping policymakers in the battle against inflation.

European stocks slumped more than 1 per cent at the open with all industry sectors in the red. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 fell around 0.5 per cent, suggesting another weak day ahead for U.S. equities.

The CBOE Volatility Index — Wall Street’s “Fear Gauge” — climbed to a two-month high.

Fresh concerns about China are adding to the headwinds after officials figures showed the housing slump has worsened and domestic demand remains listless in the world’s second biggest economy.

— Bloomberg


What to watch today

  • Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser will give a speech in Toronto today to discuss ways to solve the country’s housing crisis.
  • Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will take part in a fireside chat in Regina on building a resilient economy in the face of multiple transitions happening regarding critical minerals and the digital industry.
  • Data coming from the United States includes the Federal Reserve Beige Book, with its economic snapshots from across the country, and retail sales for December
  • Earnings out today include Charles Schwab, Alcoa and Kinder Morgan.

Recommended from Editorial

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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