Oriental supplies skid after apprehension – Service Information



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Asian stock prices skidded Thursday following the arrest of a senior official at Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei that could derail progress in China-U.S. trade talks.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index tumbled 2.6 per cent to 26,117.28 and Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 2.1 per cent to 21,435.96. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 per cent to 5,635.60, while South Korea’s Kospi sank 1.3 per cent to 2,072.79. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.3 per cent to 2,615.82. Shares also fell in Taiwan and all other regional markets.

HUAWEI: The news of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest sent shares sharply lower. Share prices rallied early in the week following President Donald Trump’s agreement with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping over the weekend to hold off on further retaliatory moves in a festering trade war. But they’ve since fallen back amid confusion over what the two sides agreed to and whether the deal will enable Beijing and Washington to resolve longstanding, profound differences over technology policy and other issues. China demanded Meng’s immediate release and warned the case might lead to retaliation against American and Canadian executives in China.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “We are closely watching the developments in Asia after reports that Canada has arrested the Huawei CFO facing U.S. extradition for allegedly violating Iran sanctions. This headline is quite significant as the U.S. government is attempting to persuade allies to stop using Huawei equipment due to security fears, and this headline could weigh negatively on tech stocks,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading at Oanda in Singapore.

TECHNOLOGY STOCK: Technology shares declined, with Japan’s Nintendo Co. down 4.3 per cent; Samsung Electronics Co. lost 1.8 per cent; ZTE Corp. declined 5.8 per cent and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. dropped 4.6 per cent in morning trading.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 21 cents to $52.68 a barrel. It fell 0.7 per cent to $52.89 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 10 cents to $61.46.

CURRENCY: The dollar slipped to 112.81 yen from 113.19 yen. The euro inched up to $1.1347 from $1.1342.

 

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Dec 5, 2018 / 6:06 pm | Story:
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Internal Facebook documents released by a U.K. parliamentary committee offer the clearest evidence yet that the social network has used its enormous trove of user data as a competitive weapon, often in ways designed to keep its users in the dark.

Parliament’s media committee accused Facebook on Wednesday of cutting special deals with some app developers to give them more access to data, while icing out others that it viewed as potential rivals.

In other documents, company executives discussed how they were keeping the company’s collection and exploitation of user data from its users. That included quietly collecting the call records and text messages of users of phones that run on Google’s Android operating system without asking their permission.

The U.K. committee released more than 200 pages of documents on the tech giant’s internal discussions about the value of users’ personal information. While they mostly cover the period between 2012 and 2015 —the first three years after Facebook went public — they offer a rare glimpse into the company’s inner workings and the extent to which it used people’s data to make money while publicly vowing to protect their privacy.

The company’s critics said the new revelations reinforced their concerns over what users actually know about how Facebook treats their data.

“These kinds of schemes are exactly why companies must be required to disclose exactly how they are collecting and sharing our data, with stiff penalties for companies that lie about it,” Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said in a statement.

Facebook called the documents misleading and said the information they contain is “only part of the story.”

“Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform,” the company said in a statement. “But the facts are clear: We’ve never sold people’s data.”

In a Facebook post , company CEO Mark Zuckerberg sought to put the documents in context. “Of course, we don’t let everyone develop on our platform,” he wrote. “We blocked a lot of sketchy apps. We also didn’t allow developers to use our platform to replicate our functionality or grow their services virally in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook.”

The U.K. committee seized the documents from app developer Six4Three, maker of a now-defunct bikini-picture search app. Six4Three acquired the files as part of a U.S. lawsuit that accuses Facebook of deceptive, anti-competitive business practices. The documents remain under court seal in the U.S.

In a summary of key issues pertaining to the documents, the committee said Facebook “whitelisted,” or made exceptions for companies such as Airbnb and Netflix, that gave them continued access to users’ “friends” even after the tech giant announced changes in 2015 to end the practice.

“Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data,” the committee said in a statement. “It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.”

The documents “raise important questions about how Facebook treats users’ data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market,” said committee chair Damian Collins. “We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.”

The cache includes emails from Zuckerberg and other key members of his staff. The emails show Zuckerberg and other executives scheming to leverage user data to favour companies not considered to be threats and to identify potential acquisitions.


Dec 5, 2018 / 4:19 pm | Story:
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Toyota’s top U.S. executive says car sales nationwide have nearly bottomed out, but his company will keep making them despite a dramatic shift to trucks and SUVs.

U.S. CEO Jim Lentz told the Detroit Economic Club Wednesday that car sales fell below 30 per cent of sales last month, and he thinks that’s close to the bottom.

While Fiat Chrysler, Ford and General Motors are cancelling many car models, Lentz doesn’t see that happening with Toyota. Consumers are still buying more than 4 million compact, midsize and near-luxury cars each year, he said. “There’s no way I’m going to walk away from that,” Lentz said. “We are always going to have a bias toward passenger cars.”

Nationwide, passenger car sales are on pace to be 800,000 vehicles below 2017, while truck and SUV sales should increase by the same amount. Low fuel prices, ease of entry and exit, and ample storage space have fueled an SUV sales boom that has accelerated during the past two years.

Toyota’s car sales are down nearly 12 per cent through October while truck and SUV sales are up 8 per cent.

Lentz said that U.S. car sales this year probably will fall below what they were in 2010 during the financial crisis. “There is a depression on the passenger car side,” he said.

Still, Toyota will stay in the market with its midsize Camry, a new compact Corolla and other models. It even plans to add a model next year when it revives the Supra sports car, he said.

Toyota made the high-performance Supra from 1978 to 2002, according to its website. The company plans to unveil the new Supra next month at the North American International Auto show in Detroit.

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Dec 5, 2018 / 4:10 pm | Story:
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Canadian authorities said Wednesday that they have arrested the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies, who is facing extradition to the United States.

Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday. He said Meng is sought for extradition by the U.S.

McLeod said a publication ban had been imposed in the case and he could not provide any further details. The ban was sought by Meng, who has a bail hearing Friday, he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that U.S. authorities are investigating whether Chinese tech giant Huawei violated sanctions on Iran.

Meng is also deputy chairman of the board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for Huawei didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

In April, China appealed to Washington to avoid damaging business confidence following the Wall Street Journal report that U.S. authorities were investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran amid spiraling technology tensions.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said then that China opposes any country imposing unilateral sanctions based on its own law.

Asked about the report that Huawei was under investigation, Hua said in April, “We hope the U.S. will refrain from taking actions that could further undermine investor confidence in the U.S. business environment and harm its domestic economy and normal, open, transparent and win-win international trade.”


Dec 5, 2018 / 7:19 am | Story:
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UPDATE 7:20 a.m.

The Bank of Canada left its interest rate unchanged today and says the timing of future hikes will depend on factors such as how long the oil-price slump lasts, how well business investment picks up its pace and how much room the economy still has left to grow.

The central bank is holding its trend-setting rate at 1.75 per cent in a decision that follows a quarter-point increase at its previous policy meeting in October.

The bank has been on a gradual rate-hiking path for more than a year thanks to a strengthening economy and has already raised the benchmark five times since the summer of 2017.

The bank says it will keep a close eye on the evolution of several recent developments as it considers the timing of its next rate hike — including a steep slide in oil prices that it predicts will reduce activity in Canada’s energy sector.

It also says recent data show that the economy has less momentum heading into the final quarter of 2018 related to factors such as a drop in business investment that the bank largely connects to trade uncertainty last summer.

The bank also notes it will be watching for positive developments such as signs the economy can still expand without stoking inflation.

The central bank can raise the interest rate to prevent inflation from climbing too high. Many market watchers had expected governor Stephen Poloz to wait until at least January before his next rate increase.

The Bank of Canada has estimated it will no longer need to increase the interest rate once it reaches a level of between 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent, but Poloz has said this destination range remains “sufficiently uncertain” and could move up or down.


ORIGINAL 7:12 a.m.

Bank of Canada leaves its key rate unchanged, as expected, at 1.75 per cent.

More coming


Dec 5, 2018 / 7:15 am | Story:
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Oilsands producer Canadian Natural Resources is setting its 2019 capital budget at $1-billion less than its “normalized” range but says it will ramp up spending if heavily discounted oil prices in Western Canada rebound.

The Calgary-based company says it is targeting a 2019 base capital program of $3.7 billion, about 20 per cent below its preferred range of $4.7 billion to $5.0 billion.

The program includes about $3.1 billion needed to maintain production and $600 million to be spent on long-term growth projects.

Canadian Natural says a curtailment program announced by the Alberta government last weekend designed to remove 325,000 barrels per day of oil from the province’s over-taxed pipelines has already resulted in stronger forward crude prices in January.

It says it will monitor those prices and the progress of the stalled Keystone XL and Trans Mountain expansion export pipelines with the option to increase its spending by about $700 million next year if signals warrant.

The company says production in 2019 is targeted to be between 1.03 million and 1.12 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, with a product mix of about 76 per cent oil and natural gas liquids and 24 per cent dry natural gas.


Dec 5, 2018 / 6:59 am | Story:
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Hudson’s Bay Co. says it had a smaller overall third-quarter loss than last year as sales increased by 5.6 per cent to $2.2 billion, with its Saks Fifth Avenue brand of luxury retail stores continuing to show improvements.

The Toronto-based retailer’s net loss was $164 million or 69 cents per share, including discontinued operations

That’s down from last year’s net loss $243 million or $1.33 per share in last year’s third quarter, including discontinued operations.

HBC listed its European arm as a discontinued operation after agreeing to sell its controlling interest during the second quarter.

HBC Europe had $974 million of sales in the third quarter and a net loss of $41 million, down from $107 million.

HBC’s continuing operations had a loss of $124 million or 52 cents per share, compared with $116 million or 64 cents per share last year.

Comparable-store sales from continuing operations increased 2.9 per cent overall, with Saks Fifth Avenue up 7.3 per cent and the Saks OFF 5th off-price brand down 2.3 per cent on a comparable-sales basis.

Comparable-store sales at the group that includes Hudson’s Bay, Lord & Taylor and Home Outfitters were up 0.9 per cent before adjusting for the timing of an annual promotional event.


Dec 5, 2018 / 6:48 am | Story:
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The Bank of Canada is widely expected to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent today after a 25-basis-point increase at its last setting in October.

This morning’s announcement comes in the wake of a move by the Alberta government to curtail oil production in the province after Jan. 1 to try to clear a crude storage glut that has driven western Canadian oil prices to multi-year lows.

Meanwhile, the recently announced plan to close the General Motors of Canada car plant in Oshawa, Ont., similarly offers a downside risk to future growth.

Bank economists say an unexpected dip in monthly gross domestic product figures in September and lower-than-expected oil prices so far in the fourth quarter have dampened growth expectations and placed in doubt forecasts for a January bank rate increase.

Lower growth prospects are expected to reinforce Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz’s strategy of moving very gradually on increases to its overnight rate.

Economists say they will be closely watching Poloz’s speech on Thursday for signs of how events are affecting his view of the path forward.


Dec 5, 2018 / 6:46 am | Story:
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National Bank of Canada had $566 million of net income in its fourth quarter, up eight per cent from the same period last year as each of its three main business units improved earnings.

The Montreal-based bank says the profit amounted to $1.52 per share on a diluted basis and $1.53 per share after adjustments.

Analysts had estimated $1.52 per share of net income and $1.52 per share of adjusted earnings, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Revenue for the three months ended Oct. 31 was $1.87 billion, slightly above analyst estimates.

During the same period of fiscal 2017, National Bank had $525 million of net income or $1.39 per share and $1.76 billion of revenue.

The bank says its quarterly dividend will rise three cents to 65 cents per common share, payable Feb. 1.


Dec 5, 2018 / 5:34 am | Story:
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Chinese audiences aren’t exactly going nuts over the U.S. box office hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” despite its all-Asian cast and theme of rising Asian prosperity.

Industry data show the film made just $1.2 million over the three days of its initial release, far behind local productions in the world’s second-largest movie market. That compared with the $24.2 grossed by the Chinese crime drama “A Cool Fish,” according to data from the consultancy Artisan Gateway cited by Variety, an industry journal.

Chinese film industry veteran Wei Junzi says the romantic comedy’s focus on Southeast Asian culture did not resonate with mainland Chinese, despite the cast’s ethnic makeup.

“It’s a good genre movie,” Wei said. “It’s also an interesting comparison with the current China-U.S. relationship. You think you know about China, but in reality you don’t.”

The film’s poor performance in China contrasts sharply with its near-rapturous reception in the Chinese diaspora, especially in the U.S. where it was hailed as the first all-Asian box office smash.

Critic Shi Hang said Chinese audiences are so used to all-Asian productions that the casting didn’t hold much novelty.

“What the public was excited about abroad was all-Asian-faces, but, sorry, we watch all-Asian-faces every day so it is less valuable here,” Shi said.

The film’s over-the-top displays of wealth and entitlement may also have been a turn-off for some viewers in a country where the widening gap between rich and poor rankles many.

“It is understandable in a comedy atmosphere, but it gets harder for me to get into the story,” he said.

The Warner Bros.’ breakout romantic comedy earned $173 million in the U.S. and was a box office hit in Singapore, where it is set. Like most comedies, John M. Chu’s film hasn’t been as much of a sensation elsewhere. It took months to secure a China release date, a delay some attributed to its portrayal of extremely wealthy Chinese Singaporeans at a time when China’s ruling Communist Party is cracking down on corruption and displays of crass consumerism.


Dec 5, 2018 / 5:25 am | Story:
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Home sales across the Greater Toronto Area fell nearly 15 per cent in November, compared with a year ago, as sale prices continued to see moderate growth, a suggestion that Canada’s largest city still remains a seller’s market.

The Toronto Real Estate Board says there were 6,251 residential transactions recorded last month through its multiple listing service (MLS) system, down 14.7 per cent versus a year ago. On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales were down by 3.4 per cent compared with October 2018.

The average sale price was up by 3.5 per cent year-over-year to $788,345. Adjusted seasonally, the average sale price was nearly flat, down by 0.8 per cent compared to October 2018.

The MLS HPI composite benchmark price jumped by 2.7 per cent last month, compared with last year.

TREB, which represents more than 52,000 real estate agents across the region, blamed the decline in sales to a “temporary upward shift in demand” in November 2017 prior to the new stress-test rules coming into effect.

The board says the number of new listings hitting the market also fell in November, down 26.1 per cent to 10,534 from 14,260 when compared with the same month last year.


Dec 4, 2018 / 11:59 am | Story:
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Both sales and prices for Metro Vancouver homes have dropped in what the head of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says is a return to historical demand levels.

Board president Phil Moore says home buyers have been taking a wait-and-see approach for most of 2018 and the slower activity has prompted home prices to edge downward across all property types.

The board reports just over 1,600 residential home were sold in the region in November, a 42.5 per cent drop from the same month last year and a 34.7 per cent decrease in the 10-year average.

Moore says home prices have dipped four to seven per cent over the last six months depending on the property type and the board will watch conditions in the first quarter of 2019 to see if buyer demand picks up ahead of the usually active spring market.

The benchmark price for detached homes is just over $1.5 million, while the average price of an apartment is $667,800, a 2.3 per cent price decrease from November 2017.

The Greater Vancouver Real Estate board includes properties from Whistler and the Sunshine Coast in the north to Richmond, South Delta and Maple Ridge in the south.

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