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Daily Pulse

Canada

Nafta talks are picking up again as the U.S. and Canada each wait for the other to blink -- and as the clock runs down to reach a deal that would likely have the easiest path for approval. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will meet Wednesday in Washington, their first in-person session in eight days. The two countries remain at odds on core issues, including dairy and dispute panels, and have been pressuring each other on the eve of the meeting.

Enbridge Inc. agreed to acquire the shares it doesn't already own in three North American units for about $7.1 billion as the Canadian pipeline giant moves to simplify its corporate structure. The rollup of the so-called master limited partnerships will bring all of Enbridge's core liquids and natural gas assets under the umbrella of a single publicly traded entity to the benefit of all shareholders and unitholders, Calgary-based said in a statement Tuesday.

United-States

High-dividend "safety" stocks are leading U.S. stock indexes' latest assault on record highs, the most recent sign of how a nine-yearlong market rally is reshaping longstanding investor behaviors. This month, the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 include firms focusing on telecommunications services, consumer staples and utilities—socalled safe sectors whose steady dividend payouts have long made them investor favorites when markets are volatile.

Retailers appear to have the odds in their favor this holiday season, with record-low unemployment across the U.S., strong consumer confidence and building sales momentum so far in 2018. Retail sales are expected to grow between 5 to 5.6 percent from a year ago, according to Deloitte's annual forecast for the holiday season, which was released on Wednesday. For comparison, sales between November of last year and January 2018 climbed 5 percent, totaling $1.05 trillion, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. This year, Deloitte says holiday retail sales could top $1.10 trillion.

Europe

London house prices posted their biggest drop in almost a decade in July. Home prices fell 0.7 percent, the biggest decline since September 2009, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday. The average property in the capital cost 485,000 pounds ($640,000).

Danske Bank A/S Chief Executive Officer Thomas Borgen will step down amid allegations his bank was at the center of a major European money laundering scandal with as much as $234 billion flowing through a tiny Estonian unit. The laundromat case has shocked Denmark, a country generally associated with some of the world's lowest levels of corruption and highest levels of transparency.

Asia

For the most disappointing stock trade in the world this year, step forward Tencent Holdings Ltd. Of the 10 companies worth more than $100 billion that analysts predominantly rate as buy, Tencent has by some distance had the worst 2018, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The Internet giant tumbled 22 percent in Hong Kong through Tuesday, wiping out $108 billion in value, as the company failed to maintain earnings momentum and a government clampdown clouded the outlook for the games industry.

The trade dispute between the U.S. and China will continue for the foreseeable future and escalate, and is going to be painful for Americans, according to a former U.S. trade negotiator. "For the foreseeable future, we're going to be in a tariff world and we'll see escalation," said Asia Society Vice President Wendy Cutler, formerly a negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative. "We're in for a long-haul with tariffs, but eventually there will be a negotiated solution as both sides will end up hurting too much as this tariff war escalates."

The author

Michel Doucet

Michel Doucet

Vice-President and Portfolio Manager
After obtaining a Bachelor's degree from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Université du Québec in Montréal and his Master’s degree, Michel Doucet began his career as a junior economist at the National Bank head office in Montreal. In 1992 he joined the institutional equities and fixed income group at Lévesque Beaubien Geoffrion as an economist and market analyst. Over the years, he has led various projects related to the North American and international economies as well as Canadian public finances. In 1996, the team of institutional economists to which he belongs was ranked first in Canada by Brendan Wood International. In August 1997, Mr. Doucet joined the personal services division of Lévesque Beaubien Geoffrion where he served as an economist, fixed income market analyst and vice president. In 2004, he joined the Desjardins Securities full service team as Vice President. He now occupies the roles of fixed income strategist, economist and portfolio manager. He manages the Securities Portfolio Advisory Group, advisor marketing and distribution of financial planning and insurance.