US trade gap grows to 487B in November consumer spend more on

US trade gap grows to $48.7B in November; consumer spend more on imports, while exports lag by Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press Posted Jan 11, 2013 7:06 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email WASHINGTON – The U.S. trade deficit expanded in November to its widest point in seven months, driven by a surge in imports that outpaced only modest growth in exports.The Commerce Department report Friday suggests trade will drag on economic growth in the October-December quarter. A wider trade gap slows growth because it means Americans spent more on foreign products while U.S. businesses earned less in overseas sales.Still, the report showed consumers have maintained an appetite for spending. They kept buying iPhones and other imported goods in November, despite high unemployment and low wage growth.“A strong rebound in imports is not necessarily all bad for the U.S. economy because it indicates that consumers are spending. It shows the private sector is not dead,” said Gregory Daco, senior economist at HIS Global Insight.The trade gap widened 15.8 per cent to $48.7 billion in November from October, the report noted. Imports grew 3.8 per cent, led by gains in shipments of cellphones, including Apple’s new iPhone.Exports increased only 1 per cent. And exports to Europe fell 1.3 per cent, further evidence of the prolonged debt crisis that has gripped the region.Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, predicts trade trimmed growth by about 0.5 percentage point in the final three months of the year. He expects fourth-quarter growth to be no more than an annual rate of 1.5 per cent. That would be nearly half the 3.1 per cent rate reported for the July-September quarter, which was helped by healthy growth in exports.Martin Schwerdtfeger, senior economist at TD Bank, also expects the trade deficit to subtract from October-December growth. But he said the flood of imports could be signalling stronger consumer spending and business investment.“The higher imports could mean that domestic consumption is improving. That would override some of the drag from a higher trade deficit,” Schwerdtfeger said.Through the first 11 months of 2012, the trade deficit is running at an annual rate of $546.6 billion. That’s roughly 2.4 per cent lower than the 2011 deficit.Imports of consumer goods grew to a monthly record in November. Much of the growth was from cellphones and other household electronics products.Oil imports dropped 2.5 per cent, reflecting a fall in prices and lower volume.Imports of foreign-made autos and auto parts rose, likely reflecting catch-up shipments following port disruptions in October caused by Superstorm Sandy.The U.S. trade deficit with China, the largest with any country, totalled $29 billion in November. That’s down slightly from the monthly record of $29.5 billion in October. But the trade gap with China is still on track to set a new annual record in 2012.Trade was a modest positive for overall economic growth in 2012 and many economists believe that trend will continue in 2013. However, that forecast is based on a view that the European debt crisis stabilizes and growth in Asia begins to rebound.In its latest outlook, a forecasting panel for the National Association for Business Economics predicted that the U.S. trade deficit for 2013 will total $533 billion, a slight improvement from the $540 billion deficit they expect when the trade numbers are totalled up for all of 2012. That expectation for a slight improvement is based on a view that export growth will outpace imports in 2013. read more

Google cutting 1200 more Motorola jobs as cellphone division struggles to compete

Google cutting 1,200 more Motorola jobs as cellphone division struggles to compete AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Associated Press Posted Mar 8, 2013 8:05 am MDT NEW YORK, N.Y. – Google is cutting an additional 1,200 jobs in its Motorola division as the unprofitable cellphone maker struggles to compete.Last summer, Google Inc. announced 4,000 Motorola job cuts. The latest reductions are in addition to those and will be in countries including the U.S., China and India.“These cuts are a continuation of the reductions we announced last summer,” Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick said in an email.When Mountain View, Calif.-based Google bought Motorola last year for $12.4 billion, it had about 20,000 employees.The online search leader also expects to pare jobs at the division with a planned $2.35 billion sale of the Motorola set-top business, which has about 7,000 employees. Google had about 53,000 employees as of late September.Google bought Motorola primarily for its 17,000 patents, bolstering the company in the mobile device arms race with other technology companies. The cellphone business has lost market share to Apple and Samsung, however, and posted operating losses of $1.1 billion since Google completed the Motorola deal in May.Analysts have been concerned that adding a phone manufacturing business could hurt Google’s profitability and potentially alienate the other device makers that use Google’s Android mobile operating system. Samsung, HTC and other phone makers run Android. Apple and BlackBerry have their own systems.The Wall Street Journal reported the Motorola job cuts in Friday’s editions.Google shares rose $3.39 to $835.99 in premarket trading. read more

Fairfax Financial to buy American Safety Insurance Holdings for US306 million

Fairfax Financial to buy American Safety Insurance Holdings for US$306 million AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Canadian Press Posted Jun 3, 2013 10:29 am MDT TORONTO – Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (TSX:FFH) says it will buy all outstanding shares of American Safety Insurance Holdings Ltd. (NYSE:ASI) in a US$306 million deal.The Toronto-based financial services holding company said Monday it will pay $29.25 per share in cash for the company, a 22 per cent premium to the closing price of American Safety common stock Friday.As part of the deal, Fairfax will also sell the U.S. company’s Bermuda subsidiary, American Safety Reinsurance Ltd., to Tower Group International Ltd.Fairfax says the deal with provide it with US$480 million of additional investable assets.Several of the American Safety specialty lines groups will move to Fairfax subsidiaries Crum & Forster and Hudson.“We look forward to working with the talented professionals in the American Safety team,” Fairfax chief executive Prem Watsa said in a statement.“We expect to enhance our insurance operations in certain specialty lines of business with American Safety’s expertise.”American Safety’s board of directors has approved the merger, and says directors and executives owning about 10 per cent of the company’s outstanding shares have agreed to vote their shares in favour of the merger.The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.Fairfax is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance as well as investment management.American Safety is a Bermuda-based holding company that targets underserved specialty risks through U.S.-based American Safety Insurance Services Inc. and its U.S. insurance and Bermuda reinsurance companies. read more

Chinese court orders Johnson Johnson to pay damages in lawsuit under antimonopoly

BEIJING, China – Health care giant Johnson & Johnson has become the latest global company accused of misconduct in China after a court ordered it to pay damages to a distributor in a lawsuit brought under an anti-monopoly law.The ruling by a Shanghai court expands use of the vaguely worded, 5-year-old anti-monopoly law and raises the possibility of action against other foreign companies. It comes amid Chinese investigations of possible bribery, price-fixing and other misconduct by global suppliers of milk, pharmaceuticals and other products.“This case is a warning to companies, including Chinese and foreign ones, that the Chinese government is increasing the intensity of anti-monopoly investigations,” said Wang Xiang, a lawyer for the firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.Johnson & Johnson was found guilty of “vertical monopoly” for setting minimum prices its distributors could charge for surgical sutures, according to Thursday’s ruling. The court said that caused the Chinese distributor to lose potential sales and awarded 530,000 yuan ($85,000) for lost profits.A phone message left for Johnson & Johnson’s spokesman in China was not returned.There have been few court rulings so far on the law. That has fed uncertainty about how it will apply to global companies that are eager to expand in the world’s second-largest economy.Chinese regulators have cited the law in ordering changes to acquisitions or business practices. In 2009, they blocked Coca-Cola Co. from buying a Chinese fruit juice producer.Business groups welcomed the 2008 law as a step toward clarifying operating conditions in China. Since then, they have said it is enforced more actively against foreign companies than against their Chinese rivals.Beijing is especially sensitive to consumer prices at a time when Communist leaders face pressure to contain surging living costs.Last month, two dairies — Nestle SA and FrieslandCampina — announced price cuts after authorities launched an investigation of possible price-fixing by foreign milk suppliers. They also were accused of using vertical monopolies.Also last month, police detained four employees of GlaxoSmithKline on charges they bribed doctors to prescribe the British pharmaceutical giant’s drugs.The Johnson & Johnson ruling was the first involving a Fortune 500 company in an anti-monopoly case, according to lawyers and Chinese news reports.The judge, Ding Wenlian, said the ruling reflected the law’s intention of protecting consumers and “public interests,” according to the government’s Xinhua News Agency.Johnson & Johnson was accused of improperly setting minimum sale prices to maintain its image as a premium brand, according to a court announcement. It said the company has since stopped imposing that condition on distributors.The Chinese law says companies with a large market share must let market forces set prices. Companies with monopoly power are defined as one with 50 per cent of sales in a given market or two that account for a total of two-thirds of sales.The Johnson & Johnson ruling and price-fixing probes suggest Chinese authorities see all minimum price agreements as illegal, according to Ning Xuanfeng, a lawyer for the firm King & Wood Mallesons.Companies that continue to use them “will be exposed to a great risk of being investigated or being sued,” Ning said in an email. She said a company can be convicted of operating a “vertical monopoly” if a minimum price agreement is found to exist even if its sales are below the legal threshold for monopoly power.Rainbow Medical Equipment & Supply Co. said it lost its contract with Johnson & Johnson in 2009 after it submitted a bid to supply sutures to a Beijing hospital at a price below the U.S. company’s standard. Rainbow Medical it had worked for Johnson & Johnson for 15 years.A Shanghai court rejected Rainbow Medical’s lawsuit seeking 14 million yuan ($2.2 million). But a higher court ordered Johnson & Johnson to reimburse it for lost profits.Foreign business groups also have expressed concern about a section of the anti-monopoly law that forbids abuse of intellectual property rights to hamper competition. Companies worry it might be used to force them to give know-how to potential Chinese rivals.In the Coca-Cola case, regulators said its $2.5 billion bid for Huiyuan Juice Group would harm competition by giving the U.S. company too large a market share. Industry analysts said Beijing didn’t want to see a successful homegrown brand fall into foreign hands.___Associated Press researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report. by Joe McDonald, The Associated Press Posted Aug 2, 2013 2:21 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Chinese court orders Johnson & Johnson to pay damages in lawsuit under anti-monopoly law read more

Its not over til its over Alberta energy minister on Keystone pipeline

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Canadian Press Posted Nov 8, 2013 3:07 pm MDT CALGARY – Alberta’s energy minister says it’s important the province keeps pushing for U.S. approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline until a decision is finally made.“There’s every reason to not give up on this file and (to) continue to pursue every possible reasonable way in which to make our case,” Ken Hughes told reporters at an Economic Club of Canada summit on Friday.“Until it’s over, it’s not over. You have to be in the game. You have to keep making the case.”TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) first applied for a U.S. presidential permit to build the $5.4-billion pipeline more than five years ago. The company is hoping a final U.S. State Department decision on the line will come early next year.The project has become a major focus for the U.S. environmental movement, which has raised concerns over the pipeline’s role in enabling oilsands development and its potential environmental impact in the event of a spill.In his speech, Hughes stressed the need to get access to markets not just to the south, but also to Canada’s east and west coasts by building pipelines.Alberta Premier Alison Redford is to make her fifth trip to Washington next week. Plans are to meet with State Department officials to talk about Keystone XL.Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was in Washington this week stumping for Keystone and in September Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a New York business audience that pipeline supporters must not “take no for an answer.”TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said he appreciates Redford going to Washington to speak to the province’s largest oil customer.“That relationship has been built over the last 50 or 60 years and will still be there for the next 50 or 60 years,” he said.“We’re going to continue to be their largest supplier of imported oil and they’re going to continue to be our largest customer. This isn’t the last time a premier will be going there.” It’s not over ’til it’s over: Alberta energy minister on Keystone pipeline push read more

Fed Economy picked up slightly over Thanksgiving Christmas driven by consumers factories

WASHINGTON – A Federal Reserve survey shows economic growth remained healthy in most U.S. regions in late November and December, helped by gains in consumer spending and factory output.Nine of the Fed’s 12 banking districts described growth as moderate, according to the Beige Book survey released Wednesday. That’s up from seven districts in October through early November. And two of those districts said growth had accelerated since the previous report.Only two districts — Boston and Philadelphia — said growth was modest, while Kansas City said it “held steady.”Three-quarters of the districts said shoppers spent more over the winter holidays. And all but Kansas City said manufacturing production grew.The Beige Book survey is based on anecdotal reports from businesses and will be considered along with other data when the Fed meets next Jan. 28-29.The report showed little signs of the slowdown in hiring that the government reported last week. The Labor Department said Friday that employers added only 74,000 jobs last month, down from an average of 214,000 in the preceding four months.The Fed survey, however, said two-thirds of the districts reported increases in hiring. That may bolster the view among many economists that December’s hiring slowdown was temporary and partly the result of bad weather.Still, weaker December job gains could lead the Fed to rethink its recent decision to pull back on some of its stimulus.Fed policymakers decided last month to cut the monthly purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion and suggested it would further trim its buying in future meetings. The bond purchases are intended to spur more borrowing and spending.But Dana Saporta, an economist at Credit Suisse, said the report was positive enough to suggest that the Fed will continue reducing its purchases.“We find nothing that threatens to divert the Fed from its current tapering path,” she said.There have been other signs that the economy is growing at a solid pace. Americans increased their spending at retailers in November and December at a faster pace than the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation.Greater consumer spending is a key reason that most economists expect growth will top 3 per cent at an annual rate in the October-December quarter. That would mark a second straight quarter of healthy growth after a 4.1 per cent expansion from July through September.Several districts reported significant improvement in manufacturing, suggesting businesses and consumers are spending more. A manufacturer in the Dallas district said that his company “had too many jobs to bid on … for the first time since before the recession,” according to the Beige Book.Most districts also said home sales, construction and prices continued to rise. Several districts said the housing recovery was boosting output “all the way from raw materials like lumber to finished products like kitchen cabinets.”However, reports on tourism were more mixed. Atlanta reported healthy increases in hotel room reservations. But hotels in Manhattan said revenues per room in November fell more than 10 per cent from a year earlier, the first 12-month decline since the fall of 2012. Travel and tourism were also weaker in Hawaii and Las Vegas.__Follow Chris Rugaber at Fed: Economy picked up slightly over Thanksgiving, Christmas, driven by consumers, factories FILE – In this Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 file photo, FedEx Packages move on a conveyor belt at the FedEx hub at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles. A Federal Reserve survey shows economic growth remained healthy in most U.S. regions in late November and December, helped by gains in consumer spending and factory output. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Christopher S. Rugaber, The Associated Press Posted Jan 15, 2014 12:01 pm MDT read more

Idaho governor orders police to conduct criminal investigation of CCA prison understaffing

by Rebecca Boone, The Associated Press Posted Feb 18, 2014 5:19 pm MDT Idaho governor orders police to conduct criminal investigation of CCA prison understaffing BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has ordered the state police to conduct a criminal investigation of understaffing and falsified documents at a private prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).The governor made the decision Tuesday after meeting with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Otter wrote in a letter to Idaho State Police Col. Ralph Powell that after reviewing the available information, including an audit completed by the forensic auditing firm KPMG, he now believed the public would benefit from a formal criminal investigation.“After reviewing available information, including the KPMG audit report, I believe the public interest would benefit from a formal criminal investigation into the acknowledged falsification of Corrections Corporation of America’s staffing records at the Idaho Correctional Center during 2012,” Otter wrote in the letter to Powell. “Please accept this letter as my direction for the Idaho State Police to undertake such an investigation immediately, and to put whatever time, personnel and resources are necessary at the disposal of conducting it in a thorough and timely manner. I look forward to your findings and conclusions.”CCA spokesman Steve Owen has previously said the company has serious concerns with the KPMG audit and believes it contains multiple errors. CCA has hired an attorney and is trying to get KPMG to declare the audit “inconclusive.”Otter had previously supported Powell’s decision not to investigate the company.CCA has operated Idaho’s largest prison for more than a decade. The Idaho Department of Correction asked the Idaho State Police to launch a criminal investigation into CCA last year after an Associated Press investigation showed that the Nashville, Tenn.-based company’s staffing reports given to the state listed some guards as working 48 hours straight in order to meet minimum staffing requirements. CCA then acknowledged that its employees falsified the documents to hide understaffing at the prison in violation of the $29 million state contract.For the past 12 months, state officials have said that the investigation was underway. But after the AP filed a public-records request for the Idaho State Police investigation documents, the law enforcement agency revealed no investigation ever occurred. Powell said he decided early last year that there was no crime to investigate, and instead he attended meetings with the Idaho Department of Correction as the department sifted through the documents gathered for the KPMG audit.The KPMG audit found that more than 26,000 hours of mandatory guard posts were understaffed or otherwise problematic. CCA says that number overestimates the staffing problems by more than a third. CCA has agreed to pay the state $1 million to settle the understaffing issue.Todd Dvorak, the spokesman for Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, said he couldn’t share details of the meeting with Otter because it falls under attorney-client privilege.“We join with the Governor and look forward to the findings and conclusions of the investigation,” Wasden said in a prepared statement.Owen, the CCA spokesman, could not be immediately reached for comment. CCA officials have previously said they were co-operating fully with the Department of Correction as department officials examined the understaffing issue, and that the company has taken steps to ensure the problem never happens again. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

Pancake breakfast at Sunridge Mall and Britannia Place

Pancake breakfast at Sunridge Mall and Britannia Place AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email The Stampede Caravan rolls into Sunridge Mall and Britannia Place Friday Morning for free pancake breakfasts. The flapjacks will be flipping from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.Spokesperson Ruth Ann Rayner tells 660News they’ve already served about 70, 000 people so far and should reach their goal of 100,000 satisfied breakfasters by end of their run Saturday. by News Staff Posted Jul 11, 2014 7:29 am MDT read more

NDP wants to ban all flavoured tobacco products in Ontario including menthol

NDP wants to ban all flavoured tobacco products in Ontario, including menthol by The Canadian Press Posted Nov 19, 2014 8:42 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – New Democrat France Gelinas is making another attempt to pass legislation outlawing all flavoured tobacco products in Ontario, including menthol cigarettes.Gelinas says she made a mistake in her first private member’s bill that banned flavoured cigarellos because companies exploited a loophole by simply adding a little more tobacco to the product.She says since then, tobacco companies introduced dozens of new candy and fruit flavours and new products such as lozenges, all of it in packaging aimed at youth.So this time Gelinas is proposing a total ban on all flavoured tobacco, which she says “big tobacco” is using to develop the next generation of smokers.The NDP health critic was joined at a Queen’s Park news conference by several teens who say they’re tired of the manipulative efforts of tobacco companies to target them.Gelinas says most adults probably wouldn’t recognize the flavoured products as something containing tobacco, while teens can probably name another 30 flavours and tobacco-laced products being marketed at them. read more