Today’s news: Trending business stories for December 20, 2023

The latest business news as it happens

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Top story

Metro accuses Loblaw of falsely implicating it in bread price-fixing scheme

In new court filings, Metro Inc. is accusing Loblaw Cos. Ltd. and its parent company of conspiring to implicate Metro in an alleged bread price-fixing scheme.

Metro has submitted a statement of defence and crossclaim in Ontario Superior Court, responding to a class-action lawsuit that implicates it and several other grocers in the alleged conspiracy.

The grocer denies being involved in bread price-fixing, which is also the subject of a federal Competition Bureau investigation.

Loblaw said the allegations by Metro are ridiculous and untrue.

Bakery supplier Canada Bread Co. recently filed its own statement of defence in the class-action suit, in which it denied participating in a wide-ranging conspiracy to fix the price of bread.

In June, Canada Bread admitted to four counts of price-fixing under the Competition Act and was fined $50 million.

Read more here

The Canadian Press


4:35 p.m.

Market close: TSX down more than 1% as U.S. markets also slump

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Canada’s main stock index lost more than one per cent in a broad-based slump and U.S. markets also fell, as stocks took a dramatic turn in the later half of the afternoon.

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The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 238.82 points at 20,600.81.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 475.92 points at 37,082.00. The S&P 500 index was down 70.02 points at 4,698.35, while the Nasdaq composite was down 225.28 points at 14,777.94.

The Canadian dollar traded for 75.01 cents U.S. compared with 74.94 cents U.S. on Tuesday.

The February crude oil contract was up 28 cents at US$74.22 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down five cents at US$2.45 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was down US$4.40 at US$2,047.70 an ounce and the March copper contract was up a penny at US$3.91 a pound.

The Canadian Press


1:40 p.m.

Bank of Canada governing council agreed odds of another rate hike have fallen, deliberations show

The Bank of Canada in Ottawa.
The Bank of Canada in Ottawa. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press files

The Bank of Canada’s governing council agreed the odds of another rate hike have decreased during its discussions ahead of the interest rate decision earlier this month.

The Bank of Canada released its summary of deliberations for its Dec. 6 interest rate decision today, revealing the governing council felt more optimistic about the country’s inflation outlook.

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Recent data showed the economic slowdown is being driven by a pullback in spending, which the central bank is relying on to bring inflation down.

The central bank opted to hold its key interest rate steady earlier this month for a third time in a row, as forecasters widely expect its next move will be to cut interest rates sometime next year.

But the Bank of Canada hasn’t ruled out the possibility of another rate increase yet, noting in the summary that it may be necessary to raise rates again to further quash inflation.

Statistics Canada released its November consumer price index report on Tuesday, which showed inflation did not slow down last month, holding steady at 3.1 per cent.

Read more: Here’s what the Bank of Canada was thinking when it held rates this month

The Canadian Press


12:26 p.m.

Midday markets: TSX up in late-morning trading as price of oil climbs higher

stock chart

Strength in the energy stocks and battery metals helped Canada’s main stock index move higher in late-morning trading as the price of oil rose and U.S. stock markets also moved up.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 44.81 points at 20,884.44.

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In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 31.07 points at 37,588.99. The S&P 500 index was up 2.75 points 4,771.12, while the Nasdaq composite was up 35.40 points at 15,038.62.

The Canadian dollar traded for 75.08 cents U.S. compared with 74.94 cents U.S. on Tuesday.

The February crude oil contract was up 97 cents at US$74.91 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down a penny at US$2.49 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was down US$4.40 at US$2,047.70 an ounce and the March copper contract was up a penny at US$3.90 a pound.

The Canadian Press


12:20 p.m.

Ottawa signs first carbon contract for difference with Calgary-based Entropy

Entropy Inc. has developed a unique modular carbon capture, utilization and storage technology.
Entropy Inc. has developed a unique modular carbon capture, utilization and storage technology. Photo by Phillip Chin/AP files

A Calgary carbon capture company has signed a first-of-its-kind carbon offtake agreement with the federal government.

The federal Liberal government promised in its recent fall economic statement to introduce a carbon contracts for difference framework in order to give certainty to companies considering investing in emissions reducing technology.

Carbon contracts for difference reduce the risk for businesses investing in clean technologies by guaranteeing the price of carbon for a fixed period of time.

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The government said Wednesday it has signed a first contract with Entropy Inc., which has developed a unique modular carbon capture, utilization and storage technology.

The agreement will see the Canada Growth Fund provide Entropy with a large-scale, long-term, fixed price carbon credit offtake framework.

Many environmental groups have said this type of agreement has long been the missing piece when it comes to encouraging private sector investment in decarbonization.

The Canadian Press

Read more: Canada inks first deal to guarantee future price of carbon


11:15 a.m.

CRA has now fired 185 employees for ‘inappropriately’ claiming CERB

The landing page for the COVID emergency benefit
The Canada Revenue Agency says 185 employees have been fired to date for claiming a federal COVID-19 benefit although they were not eligible. Photo by Giordano Ciampini/The Canadian Press

The Canada Revenue Agency says 185 employees have been fired to date for claiming a federal COVID-19 benefit when they were not eligible for it.

That’s an increase of 65 since the CRA last updated the public on its review in September.

The CRA is reviewing approximately 600 cases in which current employees received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit — or CERB — during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The benefit was worth $2,000 a month to Canadians whose jobs were lost or downgraded as a result of public-health restrictions.

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The CRA says that just because someone was employed by the agency, that does not necessarily mean they were ineligible for the benefit, given some have temporary or student contracts.

Of the cases reviewed, 116 employees who received CERB were found to be eligible for the benefit, and the CRA says those who were ineligible are expected to pay back the money if they have not already done so.

The Canadian Press


9:24 a.m.

Gildan shareholder revolt snowballs as another investor seeks ousted CEO’s return

The Gildan logo
The Gildan logo is seen outside their offices in Montreal, Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. A U.S. investment firm is telling the board of directors at Gildan Activewear that it is prepared to seek a special meeting of shareholders if the company does not reinstate Glenn Chamandy as chief executive. Photo by Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press

A U.S. investment firm says it’s prepared to seek changes on the board at Gildan Activewear Inc. if the company does not reinstate Glenn Chamandy as chief executive.

In a letter to the board, Browning West also urged it to remove Donald Berg as chair and appoint Browning West co-founder Peter Lee as a shareholder representative.

Browning West says it will seek a special meeting of shareholders to replace the board if the company does not heed the feedback from it and other shareholders and will not hesitate to hold the board accountable for further delays in rectifying the situation.

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For its part, Gildan’s board said the decision to remove Chamandy and replace him with Vince Tyra came after Chamandy agreed to a succession timeline only to later ask to stay on beyond the original plan.

In a letter to shareholders, Berg, along with the board’s committee chairs, wrote that the board’s trust and confidence in Chamandy had eroded as it worked to hold him accountable for delivering the next chapter of the company’s long-term growth.

Browning West, which holds a 4.8 per cent stake in Gildan, is not alone in seeking the return of Chamandy. It noted that Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., Gildan’s largest shareholder, along with others who collectively hold more than one third of the company’s shares have also called for his reinstatement.

The Canadian Press

Read more: Gildan board fires back at ousted CEO as activist investors turn up heat


7:30 a.m.

Canadians are flocking to Alberta

Crowds in the grandstand watch the Calgary Stampede rodeo in July. More than 17,000 people from other parts of the country moved to Alberta from July to September this year.
Crowds in the grandstand watch the Calgary Stampede rodeo in July. More than 17,000 people from other parts of the country moved to Alberta from July to September this year. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Alberta’s population is yet again growing faster than any other province in Canada, with more than 17,000 people moving from other parts of the country from July to September, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.

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The migration is largely from Ontario and B.C., which have been experiencing a loss in population for more than a year. In contrast, interprovincial migration to Alberta has been rising by 10,000 or more people for five consecutive quarters — a first since such data began being recorded.

The main driver for the rise in the number of people is non-permanent immigration, which surged by 10,638 in the third quarter.

The news comes as Alberta shutters its Alberta Calling campaign, which the UCP government launched in August 2022 as a way to attract newcomers by boasting of “bigger paycheques” and “smaller rent cheques.”

A second round of the campaign was reintroduced in March before the announcement to end the program was made during a telephone town hall last week about the upcoming provincial budget, where Finance Minister Nate Horner called the campaign a success.

“We think Alberta called and many, many answered, but it has taken up a lot of the vacancies,” Horner said. “The housing market’s very tight.”

Hiren Mansukhani, Calgary Herald

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Stock markets before the opening bell

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Financial Post

Bonds are rallying but stocks are down this morning after a fresh batch of soft inflation data boosted the likelihood of interest-rate cuts, but also underscored the risk of an economic downturn.

Slower-than-expected inflation data from the U.K. “adds to the mounting evidence that global inflation has begun to crumble on a broader basis,” Christoph Rieger, head of rates research at Commerzbank, told Bloomberg.

British 10-year borrowing costs retreated as much as 11 basis points on bets the Bank of England would cut its rate next year. Treasury yields slid four basis points to 3.9 per cent, down more than 40 this month.

U.S. futures are in the red.

Bloomberg


What to watch today

  • The Bank of Canada releases its summary of monetary policy deliberations today for its Dec. 6 interest rate decision. The central bank kept its key interest rate target on hold at five per cent earlier this month, but said it was still concerned about risks to the outlook for inflation and that it was prepared to raise rates if needed.
  • BlackBerry Ltd. will release its results for its third quarter today, followed by a conference call. Last week the Waterloo, Ont-based technology company announced the promotion of John Giamatteo to chief executive and called off plans for an initial public offering of its Internet of Things business.
  • Parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport and member of Parliament for Niagara Centre, Vance Badawey, on behalf Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez, will make an announcement in Fort Erie, Ontario related to Canada’s supply chains.

Need a refresher on yesterday’s top headlines? Get caught up here.

Additional reporting by The Canadian Press, Associated Press and Bloomberg

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