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Sunday, November 27, 2011

World economic ills aren't discouraging Canadian shoppers for holidays as spending remains strong: survey

   Canada column published on Sunday, Nov. 27/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   The world economic upheaval won’t be the Grinch that steals all of Christmas for Canadians as consumer confidence has turned positive.
   Economic uncertainty elsewhere “is not doing any more major damage to confidence” of Canadians, said Norman Baillie-David of TNS Canada.
   The marketing and social research firm’s much-watched confidence index rose last month after six months of declines but it’s “not a good news story, at least yet,” he added.
   While Canadians indicated that many aren’t ready to make major financial outlays right now, such as buying a car or major appliance, Christmas spending won’t be all that stifled.
   The survey found 59 percent plan to spend about the same as before while those who are cutting back the most are 25 percent of those who spend the most – more than $2,000.
   On average, Canadians will spend $776 this year for holiday gifts, down from $812 last year.
   This indicates that Canadians are saying “things are maybe going crazy everywhere else but my own situation right now is still not that bad,” Baillie-David said.


   Police have cleared Occupy movement demonstrators out of many Canadian parks and public places.
   A court ruling that the squatters were trespassing allowed Toronto police to evict the protesters housed in makeshift tents with little violence and 11 arrests.
   They had been in a downtown park for 39 days as part of a global movement to protest financial and corporate greed.
   Vancouver police removed a second Occupy site that began after the initial site at the art gallery was ruled illegal.
   Protests in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, and Montreal were also ended by authorities as in about a dozen other cities earlier.


   News in brief:
   - Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said he is “comfortable” with keeping the key interest rate at a near-record low of one percent. "In this environment, the bank judges it appropriate to maintain the considerable monetary stimulus in place," he said. Economists say the central bank won’t start to raise interest rates again until at least 2013.
   - A British Columbia Supreme Court has ruled that marriages performed in the polygamous commune of Bountiful are inherently harmful and must be outlawed to protect women, children and the institution of marriage. Judge Robert Bauman found that the law against polygamy is constitutional. Residents in the community of 1,000 people believe polygamy will help them reach a higher level of heaven. An appeal of the ruling is expected.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has dropped to a two-month low at 95.27 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0497 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is unchanged 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,487 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 1,511 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 10, 13, 15, 30, 34 and 44; bonus 21. (Nov. 19) 3, 4, 14, 18, 28 and 31; bonus 47. Lotto Max: (Nov. 18) 8, 17, 27, 28, 39, 44 and 49; bonus 24.


   Regional briefs:
   - A DNA sample has led police to believe the man who killed an 18-year-old woman on Halloween night sexually assaulted a Kelowna escort employee six years ago. Taylor Van Diest died of injuries after being attacked while walking alone along railway tracks in Armstrong.
   - A supply ship crashed into an oil rig in high waves off Newfoundland, ripping a 15-foot hole in a column. Husky Energy reported the hole was in a water-tight compartment that was sealed off and the rig remains stable. There were 90 people working on the rig at the time but no one was injured. The rig will be out of service until repairs are made.
   - Two lottery players from Ontario have made history by being the largest single winners of $50 million each. Retired mechanic Franco Varone from Woodbridge and diner cooks Don and Linda Ingram of Oshawa were the big winners in recent draws. Seven instructors at Red Deer College in Alberta shared a $30-million jackpot. In Canada, lottery winnings are tax free with the winnings paid at once.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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