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Vacancy rate falls – Business News

Nov 28, 2018 / 7:25 am | Story:

Sales of new U.S. homes plummeted 8.9 per cent in October, as the number of newly built, unsold homes sitting on the market climbed to its highest level since 2009.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 last month. New-home sales have declined in four of the past five months. Over the past year, sales of new homes have dropped 12 per cent as higher mortgage rates have caused it-be buyers to back away.

The report adds to the evidence that the US housing market has stalled after years of climbing faster than incomes. The Donald Trump signed a deficit-financed tax cuts last year at the end of last year. Sales of existing homes have tumbled 5.1 per cent this year, the largest annual drop recorded by the National Association of Realtors since July 2014.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year mortgage was 4.81 per cent last week, up from 3.92 per cent a year ago.

The decline has left homebuilders with 336,000 homes listed for sale. That is the highest level since January 2009, when the real estate market was still sorting through the wreckage of the last decade's housing bubble.

New-home sales last month fell in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

The median sales price has tumbled 3.1 per cent from a year ago to $ 309,700.


Nov 28, 2018 / 7:02 am | Story:

The National Basketball Association has reached a deal to provide official league data to licensed sports betting providers.

In a pact announced Wednesday morning, the NBA is partnering with Sportradar and Genius Sports to distribute NBA betting data to sports betting providers in the U.S.

Sports leagues that once vehemently against the prospect of sports betting are increasingly seeking to get on it now that's legal.

On Tuesday, Major League Baseball partnered with MGM Resorts to become an official gambling partner in the U.S. and Japan. MGM Resorts previously achieved similar deals with NBA, WNBA and NHL.

FanDuel joined with the NHL and its New Jersey Devils franchise this month for sports betting and fantasy sports play.

Nov 28, 2018 / 6:58 am | Story:

Alimentation Couche-Tard executives say they are "excited" by the growth and popularity of low-risk smoking products, but are keeping an eye on flavored e-cigarette pods made by Juul Labs.

California-based Juul elicited controversy when it yanked mango-, fruit- and cucumber-flavored pods from U.S. shelves in a bid to reduce their appeal to minors, but decided to keep its products in Canada.

Brian Hannasch, the Quebec-based convenience chain's president and chief executive, says Couche-Tard is focused on making products associated with such products.

He says Couche-Tard has revisited its processes and practices to ensure it does not sell such items to underage consumers, but wants to work with partners to understand how the products can be sold in a safe way.

Hannasch also says the market has seen a short-term bump from such products that he's feeling "optimistic" about the future of alternative tobacco products.

Couche-Tard made the comments during a conference call with financial analysts to discuss its latest quarterly results. The company beat expectations as its net earnings rose nine percent in its most recent quarter thanks to acquisitions and lower taxes.


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Canada's overall vacancy rate dropped for a second year, as demand for rent housing grew at a faster pace than the Canada Mortgage Housing Corp.

In its annual rental market survey, the housing agency says in 2018, the vacancy rate across the country was 2.4 per cent, down from three per cent in 2017.

CMHC says demand for rental housing has grown at a faster pace than supply. It found that the number of occupied units climbed by 2.5% in October 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9% in the same month a year earlier.

Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba all saw an increase in its vacancy rates, while Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces all saw declines.

The report, which looked at the purpose-built rent units and found a two-bedroom apartment jumped by 3.5 per cent from October 2017 to October 2018. This increase was higher than the inflation rate during period.

B.C. saw the largest climb in rent, with Kelowna recording an 9.4 per increase. Saskatchewan, the province with the highest vacancy rates, saw rents go down slightly, by 0.5 per cent in Regina.

In October, Vancouver had the highest average monthly rent for two-bedroom apartment at $ 1,649, followed by Toronto at $ 1,467 and Calgary at $ 1,272.

Trois-Rivieres, Que., Had the lowest monthly rent in October at $ 601, followed by Saguenay, Que, at $ 608 and Sherbrooke, Que., At $ 639.

Nov 28, 2018 / 5:46 am | Story:

An airport worker drops by Warsaw's newest Ikea store during her lunch breaks plans for a home refurbishment. Around her, people drift in and out of the shop, placing small houseware items in big yellow bags as the cafe tables fill up with people just stopping in for lunch.

The store is not one of Ikea's out-of-the-way, as the maze-like warehouses that require a car to visit, but a shop like any other in a city center shopping mall. The Swedish retailing giant plans to open up the major cities around the world as a broader transformation to adapt to changing consumer habits. Just a decade ago, shoppers are more likely to be living in urban areas and do not have a car, and often want a nearby location to look like things like furniture in person before ordering things online.

"I like the idea because you can come any time," said 29-year-old Angelika Singh, the airport worker, as she finalized an order for a new kitchen. "Most when you go to Ikea you need to have a whole day free, or at least half a day free, because it's far."

Warsaw's store is located on two floors covering nearly 5,000 square meters (54,000 square feet), about one-fourth of a traditional big-box store. Similar stores have also opened in major cities like London and Madrid, with one next next year in Paris, among other locations.

Shoppers can buy cushions, curtains and other home items. They can design the bedrooms and kitchens at computer stations. But those hoping to buy a bookcase or bed will not find them stocked in a large warehouse, although they can order them at kiosks and have them delivered to their homes.

As such, it offers a very different shopping experience from the usual visit to one of the large warehouse stores.

"Ikea's been doing pretty much the same for 70 years It's been a cash-and-carry company, and it still is for the majority of its sales," said Andreas Flygare, the project manager for the Warsaw store. Now, he explained, the company must adapt to a consumer environment that has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.

Because if you can have same-day delivery, or an Uber is two minutes away, it influences other companies, like Ikea, "he said in a recent interview in the store's cafe. "It can be a pretty tough environment. Everything is changing so fast."

While Ikea is still profitable, its earnings have recently been growing more slowly than expected.

Nov 28, 2018 / 5:31 am | Story:

Approaching "baby boomer" retirements will result in a huge transfer of business ownership over the next five to 10 years, but only a small percentage of owners have a formal written succession plan, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says.

In a report released Wednesday, the CFIB suggests 47 percent of business owners with a small or mid-size enterprise (SME) intend to exit their business within the next five years and 72 per cent plan to exit a decade.

However, the CFIB report said only eight per cent of owners surveyed had a formal, written succession plan. About 51 per cent did not have any plan and 41 per cent had an informal plan.

"While it is encouraging that a good proportion of the new generation, the lack of formal planning gives rise to significant risks for Canada's competitiveness and prosperity," the CFIB says in a report by research analyst Marvin Cruz.

"With potentially over $ 1.5 trillion in assets in the next 10 years, Canada can not afford to have so many SME owners unprepared to make that transition."

The CFIB's conclusions are based on an online survey of 2,507 small business owners conducted last May.

In four out of five cases, retirement was cited as the reason for the planned departure from a business. Other factors included in their business venture or lack of profit in their current enterprise.

About 62 per cent of survey respondents said they'd rely on the sale of their business as a source of retirement income.

The CFIB said formal succession plans have been developed by the professional advisers who can help develop a timetable and a process for resolving disputes.

It also identifies a number of barriers to creating a succession plan – who do not want to take over the business and entrepreneurs who would prefer to start a new business than buying an existing business.

"Currently, there are very few options in Canada to connect those looking to exit their business with those who may be interested in purchasing a business and may be an area for governments to explore," the report says.

It also suggests that the government change the tax rules so that transfers of small businesses to family members are treated in a similar manner as to a non-family buyer.

Under current rules, a seller's property is treated as a dividend if sold to a non-family buyer.

"In effect, these rules can discourage the transfer of a business member because a transaction does not include the right to a lifetime capital gains exemption and is, therefore, more heavily taxed."

Nov 27, 2018 / 4:41 pm | Story:

Donald Trump tweeted a warning shot across GM's front bumper Tuesday, threatening to pull all U.S. subsidies for America's largest automaker If its plans to slash jobs and production at North American plants prove to be a pre-inventory of electric cars in China.

The U.S. General's announced plans to cut over 14,000 jobs and end production at five plants, including one in Oshawa, Ont.

"The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get!" Trump tweeted, noting that GM facilities in both China and Mexico appeared to be unscathed. "We're now looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including electric cars, when they built plants there (and in Mexico) – do not think that bet is going to pay off. here to protect America's Workers! "

The company said the cuts – 2,500 jobs in Oshawa, GM's Canadian heartland, as well as 3,300 production workers in the U.S. and 8,000 salaried staff – are part of a dramatic course correction aimed at better positioning GM for the dominance of electrified, interconnected and automated automobiles.

But it was hard to miss the fact that the bulk of the U.S. cuts came in the Midwest Rust Belt, a region that was instrumental in elevating Trump and his jobs-promising, "America First" to the White House in 2016.

They also cast a pall over this week's signing of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the hard-won successor to the NAFTA that Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, acknowledged Tuesday designed to promote the growth of the auto sector.

"Trumpau believes – As, Trudeau, believes – that the USMCA deal was a great help to the automobile industry and to auto workers," Kudlow told a White House briefing.

"There's disappointment that it seems that GM will rather build its electric cars in China than the United States, and we are going to be looking at certain subsidies regarding electric cars and others, whether they apply or not."

Nov 27, 2018 / 12:25 pm | Story:

Unifor president Jerry Dias says General Motors' plan to close its car plant in Oshawa, Ontario puts it on the brink of leaving Canada completely.

The head of Canada's largest private sector union represents about 2,500 workers at the factory the carmaker plans to shut the end of 2019.

After a meeting with Prime Minister Jesse Trudeau, Dias said GM has moved into production five vehicles of Mexico and the United States in the past few years, and if the Oshawa plant closes, the company will only have one left here.

Dias argues that if General Motors stops making cars in Canada, it will devastate the parts industry and that would cause big trouble for other car companies.

He says labour standards in Mexico are low and Trudeau has to work with President Donald Trump to keep manufacturing jobs from shifting south.

Dias says the revamped NAFTA deal will help eventually, but the parts that apply to the auto sector will not kick in for years and by then it could be too late.

Nov 27, 2018 / 10:17 am | Story:

The Bank of Nova Scotia plans to sell its banking operations in nine Caribbean countries and its insurance operations in two other regional markets – and its chief executive expect more international divestments in the pipeline.

Scotiabank said Tuesday it has signed a deal to sell its banking operations in nine "non-core" markets – including Grenada, St. Maarten and St. Lucia – to Republic Financial Holdings Ltd. for an undisclosed amount.

The bank also said its subsidiaries in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago will sell their insurance operations to and partner with Sagicor Financial Corp. Ltd. to provide products and services in the two countries, for an undisclosed amount.

These exits are part of Scotiabank's broader strategy to "sharpen our focus, increase scale in core geographies and businesses, improve earnings quality and reduce risk to the bank," said its chief executive Brian Porter.

The Bank intends to stay in its core Caribbean markets as well as the Pacific Alliance countries of Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, but there are more divestitures on the horizon, he told analysts on a conference call.

"We've got a couple more to go and you'll hear more from us in 2019, but they do not belong to Latin America or the Pacific Alliance," Porter said.

The divestitures were announced as the Toronto-based lender reported its earnings for the three months ended Oct. 31, capping off its 2018 financial year with a nearly 10 per cent increase in its fourth-quarter profit compared with a year ago, but falling just short of market expectations.

Scotiabank earned $ 2.27 billion or $ 1.71 per diluted share for the three months ended Oct. 31, up from $ 2.07 billion or $ 1.64 per diluted share in net income during the same time last year.

On an adjusted basis, the bank reported earnings per share of $ 1.77 compared with $ 1.65 a year ago. Analysts on average had expected adjusted diluted earnings per share of $ 1.79 during the bank's fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Scotiabank is the first of its peers to report its quarterly and full 2018 financial year earnings. Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce report later this week.

For its full 2018 fiscal year, Scotiabank says it earned $ 8.72 billion or $ 6.82 per share, compared with a profit of $ 8.24 billion or $ 6.49 per diluted share in 2017.

The bank's recent acquisitions – including a major stake in a Chilean bank – weighed heavier on the bottom line than anticipated, said John Aiken, an analyst with Barclays in Toronto.

"Further, Scotia could not escape the capital markets weakness in the quarter, despite a lower relative exposure," he said in a note to clients. "Despite the miss, we believe that there are significant reasons for optimism going forward, including acquisitions are integrated and an improvement sentiment with the disposal of certain operations in the Caribbean deemed as non-core."

Nov 27, 2018 / 10:16 am | Story:

Accenture will add 800 new technology jobs in Canada by the end of 2020.

The consulting firm says the jobs will focus on the economy and will include designers, data scientists, engineers and analytics-based workers.

The positions will predominantly be located in major cities across the country and will join the 5,000 Accenture employees already working in Canada.

Accenture is also investing in expanding its apprenticeship program to increase digital-based job opportunities for under-represented communities.

The company announced its upcoming efforts as it unveiled a new innovation hub in Toronto's financial district that aims to use technology including artificial intelligence and blockchain to solve clients' challenges.

The New Toronto location that employs 300 workers joins a network of 10 hubs that Accenture operates across North America.

Nov 27, 2018 / 5:14 am | Story:

There have been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints filed against Canada's telecommunications providers, according to an annual tally released by disputes brought by customers who have not been able to get satisfaction directly from their provider .

The 14,272 complaints raised by Canadian telecom and TV customers over the 2017-18 period was up 57% from the previous year, while the total number of issues they raised rose 67% to 30,734, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services says in its report for the 12 months from Aug. 1, 2017 to July 31, 2018.

"With the addition of TV complaints to our mandate in September of 2017, we did anticipate an increase – but not the 57 percent that we received," CCTS Commissioner Howard Maker said in the report.

But, Maker added, less than five per cent of the complaints related to TV alone.

"The increase was in the same kind of issues that Canadians have complained about historically: sales transactions that go wrong, service that does not work as expected, and billing problems."

The CCTS is a decade-old self-funded body that works under a mandate from Canada's federal regulator.

Nov 26, 2018 / 7:04 pm | Story:

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is building a $ 660-million fresh-poultry facility in London, Ont., that will enhance its ability to process higher-margin products by closing three aging plants in the province.

The protein company will invest $ 605.5 million into the next $ 5 million in related projects over the next five years, while the $ 34.5 million will come from the Ontario government and an additional $ 28 million from the Canadian government.

It will lead to a net reduction of about 300 jobs.

The new facility will span approximately 60,000 square meters and employ 1,450 full- and part-time workers once operations begin, which is expected in the second quarter of 2021. Construction will begin this spring.

"It will solidify and strengthen the poultry industry in Canada for the next many, many decades," Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain said in a conference call after markets closed Monday.

Chicken is the most consumed and fastest growing meat protein in Canada.

McCain said the plant is the largest single-site investment ever made in the Canadian food sector. Production from three of Maple Leaf's other plants will eventually be consolidated into the new facility, the company said.

Its St. Marys plant is expected to close by late 2021 and its Toronto and Brampton facilities will close by mid-to late 2022.

"These plants have served us well but they are now 50 to 60 years old and severely growing constrained because of location, footprint or infrastructure and nearing the end of their productive capacity," McCain told analysts.

McCain said he "deeply" regrets the impact on existing employees, but the plant will allow it to earn and extra $ 105 million in adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) annually by delivering high margin valued-added air-chilled , tray-packed boneless and ground poultry. It also helps to expand its retail brand and supply fresh chicken to two other facilities that make cooked and sliced ​​meat.

The new plant, to be located near Highway 401, will deliver more than 30% cost savings from lower labor, overhead and distribution and one-third increase in capacity that can expand to meet growing demand.

"This is going to be, to the very best of our knowledge, the single most technologically advanced facility of its kind in the world."

The company plans plans to provide employees with new jobs or other plants it works, he said, as well as services to help them find new job.

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