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Daily Pulse

Canada

The Canadian government announced C$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) in loans for the oil and gas sector, as well as some government funding for unspecified projects, after a supply glut sank heavy crude prices to as low as $13.46 a barrel last month. It includes “commercial financial support” loans of C$1 billion from Export Development Canada, and C$500 million in commercial financing from the Business Development Bank of Canada. While the funds are available immediately, the package was criticized as insufficient by Alberta’s premier. The liquidity injection is aimed at producers pinched when the price of heavy crude plunged in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a crisis in Alberta. Since then, the province announced a production cut and the amount paid for Western Canadian Select has almost doubled, though global oil prices remain depressed.

United States

U.S. central bankers meeting in Washington are expected to raise interest rates a fourth time this year, brushing aside pressure from President Donald Trump, while signaling a slower approach to their gradual rate hike campaign in 2019.The Federal Open Market Committee is widely expected to raise the benchmark target for rates by a quarter point to 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent, the highest in a decade, at the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Wednesday. Its policy statement at 2 p.m. might alter or drop a commitment to further gradual hikes, while officials may tamp down their economic forecasts in light of tighter financial conditions.Investors are betting heavily on a move, according to pricing in interest rate futures. The FOMC has not delivered a rate surprise at one of its meetings in a decade, but an unexpected pause can’t be completely ruled out on Wednesday especially given the recent downdraft in stocks.

Europe

The European Commission decided against launching a disciplinary procedure against Italy over its budget after the country’s populist government pledged to rein in its spending. Italian assets rallied.Following a meeting of its top officials, the commission, the EU’s executive arm, concluded that concessions by Italy on its budget meant the country didn’t warrant triggering the so-called excessive deficit procedure, which could eventually lead to financial penalties. The decision comes after weeks of negotiations between Italian and EU officials and caps a months-long tussle with Brussels that roiled markets. It also marks a climbdown for the country’s firebrand populist leaders, who rose to power with expensive election promises including a lower retirement age and more welfare benefits.

Asia

Japan’s export growth slowed again in November, with shipments eking out a tiny gain, as weakening demand in China and trade-war risks cloud the outlook.The value of exports rose 0.1 percent from a year earlier, broadly in line with a median forecast for a 1.2 percent gain, according to the finance ministry. With the exception of a decline shipments in September, that was the slowest growth in two years.

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.