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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Canadian dollar, stocks soar after higher oil prices, job creation numbers

   Canada column for Sunday, April 10/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Strong employment numbers and higher oil prices are giving Canada’s dollar and stock markets a boost.
   The dollar rose above 77 cents US, up more than one cent on Friday, as Statistics Canada reported 40,600 jobs were created last month.
   The job numbers showed the largest one-month increase in employment in six months.
   As the price of crude oil strengthened to almost $40, so did Canada’s fortunes as an oil-rich nation.
   Last month’s job advances were significant as 35,300 were for full-time work and pushed the unemployment rate down 0.2 percent to 7.1 percent from a month earlier.
   While Alberta’s unemployment rate fell to 7.1 percent in March from 7.9 percent, there were more people out of work in Calgary and Edmonton.
   Over the past year, Canada has added 129,600 net new jobs, an increase of 0.7 percent.
   Meanwhile, the pace of housing starts in Canada slowed in March due to drops in multi-unit construction.
   Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said the seasonally adjusted annual rate was 204,251 units, down from 219,077 in February.


   There are no financial skeletons in his family’s closet, suggests Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referring to off-shore bank accounts.
   Trudeau said he has been fully open with Canadians about the investments he holds as the “Panama Papers” controversy highlights many international political leaders and corporate figures using tax havens.
   His Liberal government’s first budget has allocated an extra $440 million to find tax cheaters, he said.
   Media reports have linked hundreds of wealthy Canadians to the controversy but no names have been disclosed so far.


   News in brief:
   - Alberta’s fate is Canada’s, says Premier Rachel Notley, urging political leaders to recognize the need for new pipelines. “Every Canadian benefits from a strong energy sector,” she said. The premier of the oil-rich province wants to build consensus for the Energy East pipeline to take oil from Alberta to ports and refineries in New Brunswick.
   - A funeral was held Friday for former federal Liberal cabinet minister Jean Lapierre and his relatives who were killed in a plane crash in Quebec. Killed when the chartered plane crashed were Lapierre, his wife Nicole Beaulieu, sister Martine Lapierre and brothers Marc and Louis Lapierre, along with pilots Pascal Gosselin and Fabrice Labourel. They were en route to the funeral of Lapierre’s 83-year-old father Raymond.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has advanced to 77.0 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.298 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Markets are higher, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,402 points and the TSX Venture index 602 points.
   The average price for gas nationally is lower at 96.1 cents a liter or $3.65 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (April 6) 1, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 31; bonus 21. (April 2) 2, 15, 21, 40, 41 and 44; bonus 23. Lotto Max: (April 1) 5, 6, 27, 28, 31, 41 and 45; bonus 12.


   Regional briefs:
   - Mountie Constable Sarah Beckett, a 32-year-old married mother of two children, was killed when her cruiser and a pickup truck collided in Langford on Vancouver Island. Beckett was with the West Shore Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The other driver had “non-serious injuries” and the cause of the crash is being investigated.
   - A new ferry service is planned between Nova Scotia and Maine. Known as The Cat, the service is being subsidized by the Nova Scotia government. It will run daily from June 15 to Sept. 30 from Yarmouth and Portland, with a capacity of 866 passengers and 282 vehicles.
   - The ongoing battle between taxi owners and the Uber service will go before Toronto city council on May 3 and 4. It is expected council will ease restrictions on taxis as the popularity of the “ride-sharing” Uber has soared to tens of thousands of passengers a day. Council is also reviewing Uber rules established in Edmonton and Ottawa.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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