Today’s news: Trending business stories for October 30, 2023

The latest business news as it happens

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Today’s top headlines

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5:19 p.m.

Markets close: Wall Street and Toronto post broad-based gains

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Markets started the week with gains on Wall Street and in Canada.

The S&P 500 was up 1.20 per cent on Monday to close at 4,166.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq composite also ended the trading day in positive territory up 1.58 per cent and 1.16 per cent, respectively.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index rose 0.64 per cent to 18,856.76, breaking an eight-day losing streak.

The top three performers on the TSX were BlackBerry Ltd., up 6.36 per cent, EQB Inc., up 3.71 per cent, and Brookfield Business Partners LP, up 3.37 per cent.

BlackBerry rose following an announcement by chief executive John Chen that he would be retiring at the end of this week.

The Canadian dollar traded for 72.32 cents U.S., up 0.40 per cent.

The December crude oil contract was down US$2.95 at US$82.59 per barrel.

Oil slumped to the lowest price since the war in the Middle East began as Israel faces growing pressure to limit its bombardments to help hostage negotiations, keeping the conflict limited entering its fourth week.

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West Texas Intermediate slid 3.8 per cent to settle below US$83 a barrel, the lowest in three weeks. Israel’s ground incursion into Gaza has so far been less extensive than some investors expected, and the risk premium that received a boost on Friday as the invasion commenced has since been wiped out. Losses deepened on Monday after crude slipped below technical support levels.

The December gold contract was up US$7.20 at US$2,005.70 an ounce.

The Canadian Press, Financial Post, Bloomberg

4:43 p.m.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen retiring at week’s end

BlackBerry Ltd. CEO John Chen
BlackBerry Ltd. says chief executive and executive chairman John Chen will retire from the company. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

BlackBerry Ltd. says chief executive and executive chairman John Chen will retire from the company at the end of this week.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based technology firm says Chen will depart on Nov. 4 and his roles will taken up by Richard (Dick) Lynch, while BlackBerry completes its search for a permanent chief executive.

Chen joined BlackBerry in November 2013 with a mission to restructure the company from a smartphone maker into a cybersecurity software and services firm.

In recent months, he was working on dividing BlackBerry’s cybersecurity operations from its internet of things business, which he planned to take public.

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The company also told shareholders it was exploring a range of strategic alternatives to enhance the value they derive from the business, which lost US$42 million in the second quarter of its 2024 fiscal year.

Prior to joining BlackBerry, Chen was an electrical engineer who served as chief executive of Sybase, a California-based enterprise software company.

“It has been an honour to lead and transform this iconic company over the past decade,” Chen said in a news release announcing his departure.

“I’m proud to have been able to establish BlackBerry’s vision of a trusted, software-defined world and to position the company to unlock value through the separation of our core business units into two separate operating companies.”

Leading up to the end of the trading day, BlackBerry shares jumped to close higher by 30 cents or roughly six per cent at $5.02.

The Canadian Press

4:27 p.m.

Bank of Canada’s Tiff Macklem says government spending making it harder to control inflation

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says fiscal and monetary policy are rowing in opposite directions, making it harder to bring inflation down.

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Macklem is appearing before members of Parliament on the House of Commons finance committee after the Bank of Canada’s recent rate decision and quarterly economic projections.

In response to questioning from Conservative MP Jasraj Singh Hallan, the governor says government spending is working at cross purposes with the central bank’s efforts to bring inflation down.

The governor says that according to federal and provincial budgets, government spending aggregate will grow faster than supply in the economy over the next year, adding upward pressure to inflation.

The Bank of Canada opted to maintain its key interest rate at five per cent last week, but left the door open to more rate hikes if inflation remains high.

The Bank of Canada is expecting the country’s annual inflation rate, which came in at 3.8 per cent in September, to return to two per cent in 2025.

The Canadian Press

3:30 p.m.

Moe says Saskatchewan to stop collecting carbon tax if no federal break given

Scott Moe is the premier of Saskatchewan
Scott Moe is the premier of Saskatchewan. He wants a break on the carbon tax for heating fuel for residents of his province. Photo by Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his province is to stop collecting the carbon tax if Ottawa doesn’t offer a break.

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Moe says starting Jan. 1, the provincial gas utility SaskEnergy won’t collect or submit the tax to the federal government unless Ottawa provides the province an exemption.

“The prime minister chose to make life more affordable for families in one part of the country, while leaving Saskatchewan families out in the cold,” Moe said in a video posted  Monday to X, formerly Twitter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week the carbon tax would be exempt for three years on home heating oil to address affordability needs.

The move largely helps those in Atlantic provinces where it’s a main source for home heating. In Saskatchewan, homes are primarily heated using natural gas, Moe said in the video.

Moe and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith have asked Trudeau to extend that exemption to cover all other forms of heating, including natural gas.

Moe says he understands it may be illegal to not collect the tax, but that he believes Saskatchewan residents should be treated fairly.

The Canadian Press

1:41 p.m.

Poilievre calls on Liberals to exempt all forms of home heating from carbon tax

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Pierre Poilievre
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling on the Liberals to exempt all forms of home heating from the carbon price. Photo by Paul Daly/The Canadian Press

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling on the federal Liberals to exempt all forms of home heating from the carbon tax, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an exemption on home heating oil.

The federal government announced last week it is increasing the carbon tax rebate for rural Canadians and lifting the carbon price off home heating oil entirely for the next three years.

The changes come as affordability concerns leave their party flailing in the polls in Atlantic Canada.

Poilievre wrote a letter to Trudeau on Sunday urging the Liberals to expand the exemption to all forms of home heating, including natural gas which is more common in Western Canada.

In an interview with CTV News on the weekend, Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings said the Liberals’ Atlantic caucus pushed for the changes to home heating oil.

Hutchings suggested that perhaps Prairie provinces should elect more Liberals to push for exemptions that affect constituents in those provinces, prompting backlash, including from Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

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Last week following the Liberals’ announcement, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said the exemption should also be applied to natural gas, as the majority of people in their provinces use it to heat their homes.

Smith said she’s disturbed by the Liberals’ measure, adding it further creates a divide in the country.

The Canadian Press

12:34 p.m.

Meta testing paid business verification program in Canada

Meta logo
Meta said it will begin testing a paid verification program for businesses on Facebook or Instagram in Canada. Photo by Thibault Camus/The Canadian Press

Canadian businesses using Facebook or Instagram have a new way to mark their authenticity.

The platforms’ owner, Meta Platforms Inc. announced Monday that it has begun testing a paid verification program for businesses using either social network in Canada.

In exchange for $36.99 per month, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media giant will give subscribing companies a verification badge confirming their business is authentic and grant them access to proactive monitoring for impersonation.

Businesses are only eligible for the service if their accounts meet what Meta called a minimum tenure, though spokesperson David Troya-Alvarez would not say what the threshold is, “in order to protect against bad actors.”

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Meta began testing paid verification for businesses in New Zealand earlier this year.

Meta’s new program follows a wave of initiatives from social media businesses aiming to enhance account verification.

In August, LinkedIn rolled out a new offering to verify the profiles of Canadian members who provide a copy of government identification to a third-party company the business social network had partnered with.

In May, Meta added a pay-for-verification program for “up-and-coming creators” called Meta Verified.

Meta Verified promises to authenticate accounts using government ID and mark them with a blue check mark, and give subscribers access to extra customer support with live operators.

Before Meta Verified was launched, X, then called Twitter, began charging users to obtain and maintain a blue check mark and access a slew of other features.

Many of these programs are meant to reduce impersonation.

A 2021 survey of 1,001 people from the Centre for International Governance Innovation found 62 per cent of respondents had experienced online impersonation.

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The Canadian Press

12 p.m.

Midday markets: Stocks gain to start the week

Strength in financial and technology stocks helped lift Canada’s main stock index in midday trading, while U.S. stock markets also pushed higher.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 28.81 points at 18,766.20.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 282.79 points at 32,700.38. The S&P 500 index was up 19.25 points at 4,136.62, while the Nasdaq composite was up 64.93 points at 12,707.94.

The Canadian dollar traded for 72.25 cents U.S. compared with 72.17 cents U.S. on Friday.

The December crude contract was down US$2.87 at US$82.67 per barrel and the December natural gas contract was down 14 cents at US$3.34 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$7.60 at US$2,006.10 an ounce and the December copper contract was up two cents at US$3.66 a pound.

The Canadian Press

11:40 a.m.

Teck Resources COO to retire Wednesday

Harry (Red) Conger will retire as Teck's president and chief operating officer.
Harry (Red) Conger will retire as Teck’s president and chief operating officer. Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Teck Resources Ltd. says Harry (Red) Conger will retire as president and chief operating officer, effective Wednesday.

He is also expected to step down from Teck’s board of directors at the same time.

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Teck says chief executive Jonathan Price will assume the role of president, while a search will be conducted to fill the chief operating officer job.

Conger joined Teck in September 2020 as executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

He was promoted to president and chief operating officer in September 2022.

The move comes as Teck continues to review options for its steelmaking coal business.

The Canadian Press

10:15 a.m.

GM reaches tentative deal with UAW to end 6-week strike

An autoworker pickets near the General Motors' plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., on Oct. 29.
An autoworker pickets near the General Motors’ plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., on Oct. 29. Photo by Nicole Hester/The Tennessean via AP

General Motors Co. reached a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers, according to people familiar with the matter, bringing an end to a six-week-old strike that had upended United States automobile production and cost the industry billions of dollars.

The terms of the pact are broadly similar to the deals signed earlier by Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV, including a 25 per cent hourly pay raise plus cost-of-living allowances over the more-than-four-year contract, according to the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. While the economic terms are similar to those reached by GM’s rivals, it wasn’t immediately clear if there were differences in terms including in retiree benefits, which has been a sticking point, according to the people.

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GM’s union members still must approve the deal.

The company is the last of Detroit’s legacy automakers to reach an agreement with the union, which began its strike on Sept. 15. Ford’s deal last week put pressure GM and Stellantis to wrap up their negotiations and get back to work. Stellantis was able to finalize its talks with the UAW on Oct. 28 after agreeing to concessions on job security.

GM’s shares spiked as much as 3.9 per cent in premarket trading on the news before paring the gains. They were little changed at 9:53 a.m. during regular trading in New York.


9:30 a.m.

Opening bell: Stocks claw back some losses

People walk past the New York Stock Exchange.
People walk past the New York Stock Exchange. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/AP Photo

North American stocks are clawing back some of its sharp recent losses ahead of a week that could send more big swings through financial markets.

The S&P 500 was 0.7 per cent higher Monday in its first trading after dropping more than 10 per cent below its high point for the year. The Dow was up 258 points, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.8 per cent.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 186.36 points to 18,923.75.

McDonald’s was rising after reporting stronger profit than expected. Treasury yields were also climbing ahead of a week full of economic reports that could guide what the United States Federal Reserve does with interest rates. The Fed will announce its latest move Wednesday.

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9 a.m.

McDonald’s tops estimates with help from pricy burgers

Higher prices helped boost McDonald's earnings.
Higher prices helped boost McDonald’s earnings. Photo by Mike Stewart/AP Photo

McDonald’s Corp. sales and profits beat expectations in the third quarter thanks to higher prices and movie-inspired ads touting the ubiquity of its burgers.

Comparable sales — which track restaurants open for at least 13 months — rose 8.8 per cent in the period, surpassing the 7.8 per cent average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg, according to financial results released by McDonald’s on Monday. The company’s earnings, excluding some items, were US $3.19 a share, also beating estimates.

In the United States, higher prices resulted in bigger check sizes, McDonald’s said. Marketing campaigns, expanding delivery and digital channels and better-run restaurants also helped. Yet sales increased at their slowest rate so far this year, with executives warning in July that the overall pace of growth would moderate as high inflation and interest rates take a toll on the economy.

“The macroeconomic environment is unfolding in line with our expectations for the year,” chief executive Chris Kempczinski said in a statement. “We remain confident in our future and the strategic direction of our business.”

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Comparable sales in international markets where the company directly owns restaurants increased 8.3 per cent, just missing the average estimate and decelerating from the prior year. Licensed foreign markets also expanded at a slower clip than the same period in 2022, though faster than analysts expected, as all regions posted strong results.

McDonald’s said restructuring costs hurt earnings by about two cents U.S. a share, or US$26 million, before taxes. Earlier this year, the company announced a reorganization that included the dismissal of hundreds of employees as it sought to cut costs and accelerate decision-making.


7:45 a.m.

Air Canada profit soars, revenue up 19%

Air Canada reported a profit of $1.25 billion in its latest quarter compared with a loss of $508 million in the same quarter last year.

The airline says the profit amounted to $3.08 per diluted share for the quarter ended Sept. 30 compared with a loss of $1.42 per diluted share a year earlier.

Operating revenue totalled $6.34 billion in the company’s third quarter, up from $5.32 billion in the same quarter last year, boosted by higher passenger revenues.

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On an adjusted basis, Air Canada says it earned $3.41 per diluted share in its latest quarter compared with an adjusted profit of $1.07 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

“We managed costs prudently, with operating expenses rising five per cent, on a 10 per cent increase in capacity,” chief executive Michael Rousseau said.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $2.15 per share for the quarter, according to estimates compiled by financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

In its outlook, Air Canada says its adjusted cost per available seat mile for 2023 is expected to be about 1.5 per cent to 2.25 per cent above 2022 levels compared with earlier expectations for its adjusted CASM to rise 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

The Canadian Press

7:30 a.m.

Tentative deal reached to end strike at St. Lawrence Seaway: Unifor

A Unifor sign outside the St. Lambert Lock in St-Lambert, Que., amid the St. Lawrence Seaway strike on Oct. 23. A tentative deal has been reached to end the strike.
A Unifor sign outside the St. Lambert Lock in St-Lambert, Que., amid the St. Lawrence Seaway strike on Oct. 23. A tentative deal has been reached to end the strike. Photo by Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

A strike that shuttered operations through the St. Lawrence Seaway for the past week has come to an end as both the union and employer announced on Oct. 29 they had reached a tentative contract with help from federal mediators.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. says ships are expected to start moving this morning after it reached a tentative deal with Unifor to end a strike by workers that brought the system to a halt.

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The company says workers will be back on the job as of 7 a.m.

Neither the St. Lawrence Seaway management nor Unifor — which represents about 360 seaway employees — shared details of the proposed agreement, but both sides were under pressure to resolve the strike that halted the shipment of cargo through the heavily-travelled corridor.

The premiers of Ontario and Quebec had called on Ottawa to intervene if federally mediated talks failed to bring about a quick end to the walkout by Unifor members at most of the seaway’s 15 locks.

But on Sunday evening, both the union and the seaway authority issued statements saying a tentative deal had been achieved.

“I am so proud of the unity of our members along the seaway as they joined together to secure better wages and working conditions for all,” Unifor Quebec Director Daniel Cloutier said in the union’s news release.

The Seaway Management Corp. said it will begin implementing its recovery program immediately and will start “passing ships progressively” as of Monday, adding employees will be back on the job by 7 a.m.

Terence Bowles, chief executive of the Seaway Management Corp., said the agreement was “fair for workers” and “secures a strong and stable future for the seaway.”

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“We know that this strike has not been easy for anyone, and value the patience and co-operation of our marine industry bi-national partners; carriers, shippers, ports, local communities and all those who depend on this vital transportation corridor on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border,” Bowles said in a statement from the seaway authority.

Unifor said details of the tentative agreement will first be shared with members and will be made public once it has been ratified in a vote that will be scheduled in the coming days.

Wages have been a key sticking point in the job action, which shut down the seaway last weekend.

The seaway is a major trade route connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.

The Canadian Press

Before the opening bell: European stocks rebound from 10-month low

Stock markets October 30, 2023

Stocks rose, with Europe’s Stoxx 600 bouncing back from a 10-month low, and oil prices retreated as Israel’s military action in Gaza proceeded more cautiously than some investors had feared.

Europe’s Stoxx 600 and S&P 500 futures gained about 0.7 per cent. Brent crude oil dropped to US$89 a barrel and gold slipped below US$2,000 an ounce. Ten-year Treasury yields edged higher to 4.86 per cent.

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Instead of a massive ground invasion, the Israeli military has started slowly and so far there are few signs that the conflict will spread across the wider Middle East region. That’s being seen as enough good news for investors to wade back into markets after last week’s sharp selloff, which sent the S&P 500 into a correction on Friday after the index closing 10 per cent below a recent peak.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed down 137.92 points at 18,737.39 on Friday.

The week ahead includes a slew of potentially market-moving events for investors to track, including central bank meetings in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, while the U.S. Treasury Department announces its quarterly bond sales plan.

“The relatively contained operations over the weekend were perhaps a relief to markets, who are worried about other players being dragged into the conflict,” said James Rossiter, global head of macro strategy at TD Securities. “That should bode well for some risk assets. That said, there are definitely a few risk events for markets to chew on this week.”

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What to watch today

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem and senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers will appear before the House of Commons.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly will speak about Canadian diplomacy amid geopolitical uncertainty at the Economic Club of Canada.

Air Canada, TMX Group Inc., Dye & Durham Ltd. and McDonald’s Corp. are among companies reporting earnings today.

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

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Additional reporting by The Canadian Press, Associated Press and Bloomberg.

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