Today’s news: Trending business stories for November 23, 2023

The latest business news as it happens

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4:32 p.m.

Market close: TSX ekes out gain, U.S. stock markets closed

Canada’s main stock index edged higher, helped by energy and industrial stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 2.70 points at 20,116.66.

U.S. stock markets are closed for their Thanksgiving holiday.

The Canadian dollar traded for 73 cents U.S. compared with 72.87 cents U.S. on Wednesday.

The January crude contract was down 75 cents at US$76.35 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up three cents at US$3.07 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up 50 cents at US$1,993.30 an ounce and the December copper contract was up one cent at US$3.77 a pound.

The Canadian Press


4:25 p.m.

NextStar expects up to 900 foreign workers to help build Windsor battery plant

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Stellantis Windsor (Chrysler) Assembly plant in Windsor, Ont.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Stellantis Windsor (Chrysler) Assembly plant in Windsor, Ont. Photo by Nicole Osborne/The Canadian Press files

NextStar Energy Inc. says it expects upwards of 900 foreign workers to help build its heavily-subsidized battery plant in Windsor, Ont.

The company, joint-owned by Stellantis and South Korea-based LG Corp., says the temporary global staff will be part of the roughly 1,600 technicians its external suppliers will use to assemble, install and test specialized equipment.

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The estimates come a week after Windsor police posted on social media that upwards of 1,600 South Koreans would be coming to help build the plant, raising concerns from labour leaders and politicians about how many local jobs would be created by the plant.

NextStar says it remains committed to creating 2,500 full-time jobs for Canadians to run the plant once complete, and that the construction company it has contracted will employ 1,600 Canadian tradespeople directly and through subcontractors.

Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said earlier this week that he expects the company will bring in a few foreign workers to help with the project, but expects the company to prioritize Canadian workers.

The battery plant is expected to draw upwards of $15 billion in government funding through incentives linked partially to how many batteries it produces.

The Canadian Press


3:10 p.m.

Pension fund opposes Brookfield-led bid for Australia’s Origin Energy

The Brookfield Place building in downtown Calgary.
The Brookfield Place building in downtown Calgary. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia files

A vote by shareholders of Australia’s Origin Energy Ltd. on a takeover offer by a Brookfield-led consortium of investors and EIG has been delayed after the utility’s largest shareholder voiced opposition to the proposal.

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Pension fund manager AustralianSuper says it holds a stake of more than 17 per cent in Origin and that it will vote against the offer.

The consortium has made a revised offer valued at US$10.6 billion, excluding debt, that would allow institutional shareholders to reinvest in the business. If it is not approved Brookfield has proposed an alternative to buy Origin’s energy markets business, while EIG would buy the other assets.

AustralianSuper has called the bid a “lowball offer” that strengthens its view that it “remains substantially below” its estimate of Origin’s long-term value.

Shareholders were to vote on the takeover plan Thursday, but Origin said in a statement that based on the proxy votes received to date, that had it proceeded that it was unlikely that it would have received the required 75 per cent approval.

The vote has been delayed to Dec. 4.

The Canadian Press


1:53 p.m.

Oil and gas companies shouldn’t bank on carbon capture and storage: IEA

The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line System, the province's largest carbon capture and storage system.
The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line System, the province’s largest carbon capture and storage system. Photo by supplied

A new report from the International Energy Agency warns that oil and gas companies shouldn’t bank on carbon capture and storage to help them maintain their status quo on a warming planet.

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Carbon capture and storage refers to the use of technology to sequester harmful greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes and store them safely underground.

In Canada, carbon capture and storage is a key piece of the oil and gas sector’s decarbonization goals.

Oilsands companies, for example, have banded together to propose a $16.5-billion carbon capture and storage project in northern Alberta that they say will help them reach net-zero emissions from production by 2050.

But the latest report from the IEA says deploying carbon capture won’t give the oil and gas industry the ability to continue increasing fossil fuel production in the future.

The IEA says limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require 32 billion tonnes of emissions to be sequestered by carbon capture by 2050, an amount the report calls “entirely inconceivable.”

The Canadian Press


12:50 p.m.

Legault ready to increase offer to Quebec’s striking public sector workers

Quebec Prime Minister Francois Legault in Montreal, 2022.
Quebec Prime Minister Francois Legault in Montreal, 2022. Photo by ANDREJ IVANOV/AFP via Getty Images files

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he’s ready to increase his government’s offer to striking public sector workers, but he says their unions have to show more flexibility.

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He made the comments today in Quebec City as unions representing 570,000 teachers, nurses, orderlies and other public sector workers are on strike across the province.

Legault says that in exchange for more money, he needs flexibility from nurses to fill undesirable shifts and from teachers about when they are assigned classes.

It’s the first time since unions staged a limited strike earlier this month that the premier has stated so clearly that the government is ready to increase its offer.

Unions have rejected the proposal for a 10.3-per-cent salary increase over five years, a one-time payment of $1,000 to each worker, and an extra three per cent for certain jobs the province says are priorities.

Instead, they want a three-year deal that includes salary increases tied to the inflation rate: two percentage points above inflation in the first year or $100 per week, whichever is more beneficial, followed by three points higher than inflation in the second year and four points higher in the third.

The Canadian Press


11:45 a.m.

Midday markets: TSX higher in late-morning trading, U.S. stock markets closed

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Canada’s main stock index was up in late-morning trading, helped higher by gains in the industrial, technology and financial stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 41.76 points at 20,155.72.

U.S. stock markets are closed for their Thanksgiving holiday.

The Canadian dollar traded for 72.98 cents U.S. compared with 72.87 cents U.S. on Wednesday.

The January crude contract was down US$1.19 at US$75.91 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up two cents at US$3.05 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was down US$1.60 at US$1,991.20 an ounce and the December copper contract was up two cents at US$3.78 a pound.

The Canadian Press


11:21 a.m.

Ontario invests $6 million in hydrogen projects to power electricity grid

Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith.
Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith. Photo by Rick Madonik/The Canadian Press files

Ontario is putting nearly $6 million toward nine projects aimed at making use of hydrogen to power the province’s electricity grid.

The bulk of the funding is going to Atura Power to blend hydrogen with natural gas — up to 15 per cent by volume — to produce electricity at its Halton Hills Generating Station.

The government says it will be the largest electricity-based, grid-connected, low-carbon hydrogen blending project in Canada’s history.

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Energy Minister Todd Smith says it will help produce an even more sustainable energy system.

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator has said that while the province works toward an emissions-free electricity gird, natural gas generation is still required in the short to medium term to ensure stability, but it will also increase greenhouse gas emissions from the sector.

The advocacy group Environmental Defence has previously said that blending some hydrogen with natural gas won’t meaningfully reduce emissions, instead it will lock in fossil fuel infrastructure for decades.

The Canadian Press


10:32 a.m.

First Quantum’s Panama copper mine shutting down amid blockade, union says

First Quantum Ltd.’s Cobre Panama copper mine.
First Quantum Ltd.’s Cobre Panama copper mine. Photo by Abraham Teran/The Canadian Press/AP files

First Quantum Ltd.’s copper mine in Panama is winding down operations as a blockade of small boats at a port restricts key supplies such as coal for energy, a union leader said.

Workers continued to leave the site early Thursday, Michael Camacho from the Utramipa union said in text messages. He urged the government and police to intervene in the port blockade in order to get back to work.

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“We are worried as a union because the authorities do not say anything,” Camacho said.

First Quantum, which didn’t immediately provide a comment, had warned it would be forced to shut the mine if the blockade continued to prevent the delivery of supplies. Operations started slowing last week.

The Canadian firm has found itself at the centre of a political storm in Panama, with the future of its massive Cobre Panama mine called into question after widespread protests erupted last month over a deal to renew an operating contract. President Laurentino Cortizo announced a referendum on the mine, although the vote has been shelved as the government waits for a Supreme Court ruling over whether to revoke the mine’s contract.

Bloomberg


7:30 a.m.

HBC raises $340 million from North American real estate deals

The company that owns Hudson’s Bay says it completed real estate transactions in Canada and the United States resulting in a gain of around US$340 million.

HBC LP, which also owns Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off 5th, says in a statement that it’s the owner and developer of a North American real-estate portfolio totalling approximately US$7 billion.

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The historic retailer announced layoffs twice this year as it said the retail sector is navigating significant pressures.

In 2018, when the company was still publicly traded, investors challenged it to sell some of its substantial real estate holdings.

In recent years, the company has introduced several initiatives such as a revamped loyalty program, partnerships with Forever 21 and Mountain Equipment Co. (MEC), and the revival of discount chain Zellers.

Earlier this year, the company shut two of its Alberta department stores, saying the decision reflected changes in the market as well as its vision for the future.

The Canadian Press


Before the opening bell

Stock chart November 23, 2023

Stocks in Europe struggled for traction on Thursday and bonds fell as activity surveys showed a recession in the euro area is looking increasingly likely.

S&P Global’s purchasing managers’ index was in contraction again in November, hitting 47.1, data showed. While that’s a bigger uptick than anticipated by economists, it marks the sixth consecutive month below the 50 level that indicates expansion.

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Dutch firms were among the biggest decliners in the Stoxx Europe 600 index after far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders won a shock victory in the country’s elections.

United States equity futures were little changed. There is no Treasury cash trading on Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday, while Japanese markets are also closed.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed up 3.99 points at 20,113,96 on Wednesday.

Bloomberg


What to watch today

United States stock markets are closed today for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosts European Union leaders for the 19th Canada-EU Leaders’ Summit in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The inaugural Indigenomics on Bay Street Conference continues in Toronto.

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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