Facing global headwinds Rio Tinto Alcan mulls costcutting options

MONTREAL — Aluminum giant Rio Tinto Alcan is studying its options, including whether to seek the reopening of collective agreements, at it moves to reduce costs over the next 12 to 18 months to offset the challenges of a tough global market for the metal.The Montreal-based aluminum division has provided cost reduction targets to each of its facilities around the world, but won’t release them publicly.Rio Tinto Alcan met Thursday with Canadian Auto Workers union representatives to discuss employee concerns about the weak global aluminum market, cost-reduction efforts and the planned closure this year of its cathode facility in Arvida. About 50 employees affected by the closure will be relocated to other facilities.The meeting followed a general meeting of union employees about 10 days ago.[np-related]Company spokeswoman Claudine Gagnon says Rio’s facilities in Quebec and elsewhere around the world have to reduce costs. The Arvida facility also faces an additional challenge because it will no longer meet Quebec’s environmental standards as of 2015.She said the company hasn’t made any decisions about seeking the reopening of some collective agreements, but it is one of the options being considered. Other options include achieving savings by changing work rules.CAW officials couldn’t be immediately reached for comment, but Marc Maltais of the United Steelworkers in Alma, Que., said the union has yet to meet with Rio about its demands.While the union recognizes the difficulties facing the global aluminum industry, he said cheap energy makes Quebec one of the lowest cost operations in the world. read more

TSX jumps on strong data

The Toronto stock market was sharply higher Thursday and commodity prices advanced amid strong showings in manufacturing indexes in China, the U.S. and Canada.The S&P/TSX composite index ran ahead 98.33 points to 12,584.97.Traders also digested big losses handed in by two major gold miners and an announcement from TransCanada Corp (TSX:TRP) that it is going ahead with its Energy East pipeline project to transport crude from western provinces as far east as Saint John, N.B. TransCanada shares were ahead $1.05 to $47.98.The Canadian dollar was down 0.44 of a cent to 96.91 cents US as Royal Bank’s latest purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector came in at 52 for July, down slightly from the June reading of 52.4. Any level above 50 indicates expansion.China’s official purchasing managers index hit 50.3 last month. That is up only slightly from June’s 50.1 reading but economists had expected a modest decline to below 50, the level which divides contraction and expansion. However, analysts note that the index has held between 49 and 51 for the past 15 months in an indication that the days of double digit Chinese growth aren’t coming back.“And even if it wanted to (grow that much) it can’t because it has an inflation problem,” observed Kash Pashootan, portfolio manager and vice-president at First Avenue Advisory in Ottawa, a Raymond James company. “That inflation challenge that they didn’t have five or six years ago which they have more of now puts downward pressure or sort of a ceiling on the rate on which they can grow.”U.S. indexes got extra lift after the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index for July came in at 55.4, higher than June’s reading of 50.9 and the best level since April, 2011.The Dow Jones industrials gained 122.91 points to 15,622.45, the Nasdaq composite index was ahead 35.85 points to 3,662.22 while the S&P 500 index was ahead 16.27 points to 1,702.Markets sentiment was also boosted by Wednesday’s statement from the Federal Reserve, which wrapped up its two-day meeting without any change to its monetary policy that has supported the economy by keeping interest rates ultra-low. That, in turn, has encouraged lending and spending and also boosted stock markets.There has been much speculation over the last two months about when the Fed might start to wind down a key element of stimulus, its US$85 billion of bond purchases every month. Traders believe that the central bank could move on tapering its purchases as early as its next meeting in September.Commodity prices were mainly higher in the wake of the Chinese data with the September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange up $2.51 to US$107.54 a barrel and the TSX energy sector rose 1.65 per cent. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) rose 62 cents to C$32.45.Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO) weighed on the sector as it said its net income was $327 million in the second quarter, a decline from $635 million in the year-earlier period. The main reason cited by the company was a $264-million non-cash charge related to its conversion of a refinery in Dartmouth, N.S. into a fuels terminal. Its net income per share was 38 cents, below analyst estimates of 85 cents. Adjusted earnings were 34 cents per share compared with an analyst estimate of $1 per share and its shares slipped $1.69 to $42.38.The industrials sector advanced one per cent and shares in transport giant Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) gained four cents to $5 as it said it had adjusted net income totalling US$158 million in the third quarter, equivalent to nine cents per share and in line with analyst estimates. Bombardier’s revenue was about US$300 million higher than last year, rising to US$4.4 billion, slightly better than the estimate of US$4.34 billion, but the adjusted earnings were down slightly from the second quarter of 2012.Financials also boosted the TSX as CIBC (TSX:CM) climbed 69 cents to $78.62.The base metals sector climbed 0.2 per cent while copper added to Wednesday’s eight-cent rise, up six cents to US$3.18 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) advanced 26 cents to C$24.32 while HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) dropped 47 cents to $6.45 as the miner reported deepening losses. Its second quarter loss came in at $52.7 million or 31 cents a share, compared to a loss of $29.6 million or 17 cents a year ago.The gold sector fell 0.4 per cent while December bullion in New York shed gained $2.40 to US$1,315.40 an ounce. Allied Nevada Gold (TSX:ANV) faded 18 cents to C$6.74.Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) posted a US$8.56 billion loss and lowered its quarterly dividend in the wake of lower prices for bullion and copper. Excluding unusual items, Barrick had adjusted earnings of US$663 million or 66 cents in the quarter ended June 30 — better than the analyst estimate but down from 82 cents per share last year and its shares jumped 66 cents to C$17.66.Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) reported a net loss of $3.2 billion for its latest quarter, as it was also hit with a substantial impairment charge related to lower gold price assumptions and suspended its dividend. Adjusted earnings fell to 10 cents a share, beating analyst expectations of seven cents a share. Its shares started off higher but by mid-morning they were off six cents to $5.28.Traders also turned their attention to the release of the U.S. non-farm payrolls report coming out Friday. Economists looked for the data to show that the economy created about 190,000 jobs during July.Overseas, London’s FTSE 100 index edged up 0.6 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX rose 1.39 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 gained 1.12 per cent. read more

Newfoundland to borrow 5B over 40 years for Muskrat Falls project premier

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador will borrow $5 billion over 40 years to help finance the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said Tuesday as she announced that the federal loan guarantee for the development is finalized.Dunderdale made the announcement Tuesday evening during a news conference at the provincial legislature in St. John’s.“We are affirming that the Muskrat Falls project is indeed one of the most significant ventures Canada has ever undertaken,” Dunderdale said of the $7.7-billion development, which is under construction.“This is a project with tremendous vision. Our province will be practically 100 per cent renewable, powered by clean, emissions-free energy and our electricity customers can bank on stable electricity.”She said the completion of the loan guarantee will result in more than $1 billion in savings through lower interest rates and enabled the province to secure a $5 billion loan for the project to be repaid over 40 years at an interest rate of 3.8 per cent.Proponents of the development cleared a major hurdle last month when Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board approved the $1.5-billion Maritime Link. The subsea link would bring Muskrat Falls power to Nova Scotia as part of the joint project to help cut that province’s reliance on coal.Prime Minister Stephen Harper affirmed the loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls a year ago, requiring that partners in both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador remain committed.The development is a joint venture between Nalcor Energy, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown utility company, and Nova Scotia utility company Emera (TSX:EMA).Muskrat Falls will be capable of generating up to 824 megawatts of electricity with first power expected in 2017. About 170 megawatts would go to Nova Scotia annually for 35 years, serving around 10 per cent of that province’s power needs.The Maritime Link deal also grants Emera a commercial guarantee from Nalcor for access to cheaper market-priced power above that amount.Nalcor is building the dam and power station in Labrador as well as transmission lines on the island of Newfoundland at an estimated cost of $6.2 billion.Emera would build the 170-kilometre subsea Maritime Link to bring power from southwestern Newfoundland to Cape Breton.The deal has been touted as a big step for cleaner, renewable energy. But it’s also the target of ongoing aboriginal protest in Labrador along with legal challenges.“I find it a bit remarkable that the federal government has gone through with a loan guarantee,” said Todd Russell, president of the NunatuKavut Community Council. “At least two aboriginal groups in Labrador have outstanding court cases relative to issues of consultation.”His group, representing about 6,000 Inuit-Metis in southern Labrador, has vowed to keep fighting the project.“Environmentally, this is huge,” Russell said. He cited aboriginal concerns for how the dam and power station will affect not just the lower Churchill River but eight other waterways.The Nunatsiavut government has also raised alarms about how potential mercury contamination from associated flooding could affect Lake Melville, a key food source for about 2,000 Inuit.Nalcor says it has broadly consulted with aboriginal groups as part of lengthy environmental assessments. It has also maintained that any mercury pollution will be diluted to “no measurable effects” but has said it will monitor water samples.Russell said such assurances are cold comfort.“It’s an old Cree prophecy: ’You can’t eat money,”’ he said in an interview. “And people’s rights are at stake. People’s rights are being trampled on.”But Dunderdale defended the merits of the project.“No project in our history has been investigated more thoroughly or by authorities more knowledgeable or in details more accessible to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” she said. read more

Canada wellpositioned to weather volatility in Chinas economy despite deepening ties BoC

The Bank of Canada says the economy is well-positioned to ride out any economic shocks from China —even though the Asian country has become Canada’s second-biggest trading partner.Senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins says the bank estimates that if economic growth in China’s economy comes in one percentage point lower than projections — then Canadian growth would slip one-tenth of a percentage point.By comparison, Wilkins says if the same decline happened to the United States, the impact on Canada’s gross domestic product would be six times greater.Global shockwaves from China are only going to get worse, IMF warnsIMF’s Christine Lagarde warns of political risks to global economy amid mediocre growthIn prepared remarks for a speech Tuesday to the Vancouver Board of Trade, Wilkins says the bank has been exploring how Canada might be affected by any shocks that could emerge as China’s maturing economy slows to a more sustainable pace of growth.She also notes that Canadian banks have little direct exposure to China and that any negative reverberations would mostly be felt through a slowdown in trade and weaker commodity prices.Wilkins says the Bank of Canada believes China has the potential to grow at an annual rate of about six per cent over the next 15 years.She says two-way trade between Canada and China has increased more than five-fold over the past 15 years and that about 400 Canadian companies now have footholds there. read more

Cord cutting still on the rise in Canada while traditional TV subscriptions

TORONTO — A new report says the number of Canadians cutting the cord on their TV services is expected to increase this year.The Convergence Research Group estimates in a report released Wednesday that TV subscriptions in Canada will drop by 247,000 this year, up from 220,000 subscriber losses last year.That would represent an annual drop of two per cent, and the consulting firm says that decline is expected to grow by three per cent in 2019.Television cord cutting hits record level in 2016 for Canada’s big providers: reportCord cutting escalates for Canada TV subscribers in first three quarters of 2016The report estimates 3.8 million households or 26 per cent did not have traditional TV services at home last year and projects that will rise to 4.18 million or 28.4 per cent this year.Canada’s major telecommunications providers have been racing to add next-generation TV services such as streaming to their offerings in a bid to retain and add new TV customers.The Canadian Press read more

ICE Futures Canada quotes and cash prices

WINNIPEG — Grain quotes Tuesday for tonnes, basis Lakehead:Canola (Vancouver): Open High Low Close MonJuly ‘ 17 516.30 517.30 509.40 510.40 517.30Nov. 489.70 491.20 482.50 483.40 489.70Jan. ’18 496.00 496.60 488.70 489.20 495.70March 499.60 499.60 494.50 495.00 501.40May 0.00 0.00 0.00 497.20 503.60July 0.00 0.00 0.00 498.50 504.90Nov. 0.00 0.00 0.00 484.60 491.00Jan. ’19 0.00 0.00 0.00 484.80 491.20March 0.00 0.00 0.00 484.80 491.20May 0.00 0.00 0.00 484.80 491.20July 0.00 0.00 0.00 484.80 491.20Barley (Western): Open High Low Close MonJuly ’17 0.00 0.00 0.00 138.00 138.00Oct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00Dec. 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00March ’18 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00Oct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00Dec. 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00March ’19 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 140.00 140.00ICE Futures Canada cash prices:Feed wheat: Track Thunder Bay CW: $178.00Canola:Thunder Bay No. 1 Canada: $541.40Vancouver No. 1 Canada: $557.40 read more

DAZN sports streaming service launches in Canada with NFL its first attraction

TORONTO — Looking to capture the growing number of consumers cutting their cable cord, DAZN has launched a sports streaming service in Canada.And DAZN (pronounced Da Zone) has started with a bang by offering live and on-demand coverage of every NFL game as the new, exclusive Canadian home of NFL Game Pass, the league’s premium digital subscription product.The DAZN package includes all Sunday games previously offered on NFL Sunday Ticket, plus NFL RedZone, a game-day channel owned and operated by NFL Network.The new streaming platform is leaving Canadian cable providers out in the cold on the deluxe NFL service.The DAZN cost is $20 a month or an introductory annual price of $150, with the first 30 days free. The service will be available on everything from smart TVs to tablets and smart phones.The NFL is the only sport on the Canadian menu so far. But DAZN promises to add more, as it already has in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan. All four launched last August.For example, the German package now includes English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 soccer plus a Bundesliga highlights package. It also includes NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball as well as cricket, rugby and tennis among others.The German package will be bolstered by Champions League soccer beginning 2018-19.The Japanese package is built around an exclusive 10-year rights agreement for the domestic J-League soccer.Hockey will be the big question mark for Canada, with Rogers seemingly holding all the cards thanks to a US$5.232-billion, 12-year deal with the NHL that runs through the 2025-26 season.That deal gives Rogers national rights to all NHL games, including the Stanley Cup playoffs, on all of its platforms in all languages. Bell is also involved, via regional NHL broadcasts.But the NFL is a good first card to throw down.DAZN follows some of Netflix’s business model, in terms of flexibility of contract.“When you see the breadth of other rights, hopefully in the next couple of weeks, you’ll see that we’re trying to really (provide) choice to the consumers as well and offer up a selection of different sports and different leagues,” Alex Rice, DAZN managing director for rights and strategic development, said from London.DAZN will offer full games live, as well as making them available on demand. In some cases, a condensed game will also be available.Like Netflix, DAZN recognizes the need to keep varying the menu.“You obviously have to keep spending — and spending on content. And that’s the long-term plan in all the markets,” Rice said.There will be French-language commentary “on key events.”Canada offers DAZN a connected audience in terms of broadband penetration, shown by the success of entertainment streaming services.“We could see there was clearly an appetite and clearly a movement, in some cases, to cord-cut — and obviously attract a cord-never generation who never bought a pay-TV package and are more used to buying subscription services in this way,” Rice said.The DAZN menu will be a blend of exclusive and shared properties.Rice declined to divulge subscription numbers in DAZN’s existing markets but says there are plans to expand to other countries.The DAZN announcement seemed to catch competitors by surprise Thursday.In the past, NFL Sunday Ticket has been available via Canadian cable companies. Rogers, for example, was still advertising it on its website Thursday morning as part of its $39.95 monthly Super Sports Pak.Rice called it an administrative error, saying DAZN had acquired the Sunday Ticket package.“And we’ve chosen not to distribute that on the linear pay-TV platforms in Canada, it will just be available through via the DAZN service,” he said.A Rogers spokeswoman said a selection of NFL games will continue to be available through Canadian and U.S. TV channels.“It will be disappointing for our customers that the new NFL rights-holder has decided not to make RedZone or NFL Sunday Ticket available on TV to Canadian sports fans at home,” the spokeswoman said.NFL Sunday Ticket will continue to be available to Rogers’ commercial customers.Bell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.DAZN has substantial backing behind it in the form of Perform Group, a digital sports content and media group. The majority owner of Perform is Access Industries, founded in 1986 by chairman Len Blavatnik, a Ukraine-born American who ranks 40th on Forbes 2017 list of billionaires with a net worth of US$19.5 billion.The Canadian launch comes two months after Perform struck a deal with the NFL to market the league’s TV rights in various global territories and NFL Game Pass outside the U.S. and Europe.The “strategic media relationship” covers more than 100 countries and territories, including Canada, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, and Turkey.—Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter read more

Most actively traded companies on the TSX

Some of the most active companies traded Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (15,454.23, down 0.69 of a point):Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Aerospace, rail equipment. Down 14 cents, or 5.91 per cent, to $2.23 on 9.6 million shares.Pembina Pipeline Corp. (TSX:PPL). Oil and gas. Down 71 cents, or 1.66 per cent, to $42.12 on 5.2 million shares.Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE). Oil and gas. Up 24 cents, or 1.93 per cent, to $12.69 on 4.6 million shares.Polaris Materials Corp. (TSX:PLS). Building Materials. Up 84 cents, or 30.43 per cent, to $3.60 on 4.5 million shares.Air Canada (TSX:AC). Airline. Up $1.11, or 4.20 per cent, to $27.51 on 3.8 million shares.ECN Capital Corp. (TSX:ECN). Financial Services. Up 19 cents, or 5.04 per cent, to $3.96 on 3.7 million shares.Companies reporting major news:Restaurant Brands International Inc. (TSX:QSR). Fast food restaurants. Down 22 cents, or 0.27 per cent, to $79.97 on 227,813 shares. A group representing frustrated Tim Hortons franchisees says its board members have been accused by the company of helping leak confidential information. The Great White North Franchisee Association said its board members have been served with notices of default. read more

Tamara receives threatening letter

The Sri Lankan ambassador in Geneva Tamara Kunanayakam has received an anonymous threatening letter which is being followed up by the police and UN security, the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said today.Tamara Kunanayakam took over as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Geneva in August 2011. Prior to her assignment at Sri Lankan Missions abroad, the Ambassador served as the Secretary to the Working Group on the Right to Development, the Working Group on structural adjustment programmes and economic, social and cultural rights, and also that on enforced and involuntary disappearances, at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). H.E. Ms. Kunanayakam was also attached to the ILO and UNDP. (Colombo Gazette) Kunanayakam earlier served as Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Republic of Cuba and also served as Minister Counsellor at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Brasília. read more

Blue whale struck by ship near Sri Lanka

The moving pictures were captured by diver Tony Wu, who wanted to highlight the blue whale’s desperate plight in a bid to reduce devastating ship strikes.He said: ‘The whale was collateral damage. It made me incredibly sad to see it in such a state. The animal looked like it had been struck by a ship during the night as it rested at the ocean surface. According to the Daily Mail report marine experts believe the blue whale – an endangered species with as few as 5,000 left in the wild – had been struck by a container vessel. Tony added: ‘When a big ship hits a whale, the impact wouldn’t register. It’s like a tractor-trailer hitting a butterfly – you would feel nothing. ‘To us, whales are huge. But even then, compared to a fully loaded ship, it would stand practically no chance of surviving a direct hit. It is a big, big problem, especially when endangered species like the blue whale are caught in their path and killed.’Unofficial figures show thousands of whales – many critically endangered species – have been killed by container ships.And experts believe many more cases go unrecorded simply because ships don’t even notice they have hit anything. The body of a majestic blue whale has been found near Sri Lanka after it was fatally injured as it slept in a busy shipping lane, the Daily Mail reported.The whale was spotted floating near the surface of the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of Sri Lanka. A gaping wound shows the horrific point of impact with the bow of the ship – leaving the gentle giant’s tail fin in tatters. ‘There are very active shipping lanes just south of Sri Lanka. Here huge ships travel at high speeds day and night. It is constant.‘They are ferrying consumer goods and supplies between major ports and could be hitting many more whales than we know about.‘It’s not clear how big the problem is because there could be so many unrecorded cases. ‘The only statement that can be made is that ship strikes are a serious problem, and the number of whales killed by ships is far higher than most people probably understand.’Tony, who runs snorkelling tours to see marine life, added: ‘A few days after I got back to Japan, there was a humpback whale that was killed by a boat there.‘One of the toughest issues is that In the case of ship strikes there’s no immediate villain, which makes it more difficult to get people worked up about it.‘But in truth, when you look to the bottom line, it is consumers that are responsible.‘Most of the goods being transported when whales are hit are either consumer goods such as appliances, cars, and electronic goods. The problem needs to be looked into most definitely.’  (Report and pics from the Daily Mail) read more