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Daily Pulse

Canada

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is seeking buyers for an Ontario refinery and some sour gas facilities in Alberta as the company focuses on its $31 billion liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia. The Hague-based company is among several majors that have sold their Canadian oil sands assets over the past few years as pipeline bottlenecks, high costs and low local prices discourage investment. Now it joins Husky Energy Inc. as the second company to announce plans to sell a Canadian refinery this week.

Rents for Toronto condos are expected to ease in 2019 after surging the most in at least eight years in 2018. The average monthly rent in Canada's biggest city jumped 9.3 percent to C$2,309 ($1,744) in 2018, according to a report from Urbanation on Friday. That's the biggest yearly gain since the condo research firm began tracking the market in 2010 and more than double the 4.1 percent average over the past eight years.

Oil rose for a 10th consecutive day in London, heading for its longest run of gains on record, as OPEC cutbacks reined in supply while reassurance from the Federal Reserve buoyed the outlook for demand.

United-States

Economists put the risk of a U.S. recession at the highest in more than six years amid mounting dangers from financial markets, a trade war with China and the federal-government shutdown. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg over the past week see a median 25 percent chance of a slump in the next 12 months, up from 20 percent in the December survey. The Federal Reserve is now projected to keep interest rates steady in the first quarter, instead of raising them, before two increases total this year -- down from four moves in 2018. The median projection for 2019 economic growth edged down to 2.5 percent following 2.9 percent in 2018 as the boost from fiscal stimulus fades. Growth is still expected to be buoyed by a strong jobs market, rising wages and some lingering effects of tax cuts. If the expansion that began in 2009 lasts until July, it would mark 10 years and become the country's longest on record.

Europe

The pound rallied to the highest since November on a report that Brexit could be delayed beyond the March deadline, before paring gains as the government ruled out an extension. The currency climbed as much as 0.8 percent after the Evening Standard newspaper cited unidentified cabinet ministers as saying a delay to the March 29 Brexit deadline was looking increasingly likely. Sterling then slipped back as a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said it wasn't government policy to extend Article 50.

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV shares jumped the most since 2015 after people with knowledge of the matter said the world's largest brewer is considering an initial public offering of its Asian operations as a way to unlock value after a string of acquisitions left it saddled with debt.

Asia

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained more than 4 percent this week -- $700 billion in value -- making it the best climb since early November, despite plenty of opportunities for equities to fall flat. Of course, for the skeptics out there, it's worth mentioning that this revitalized optimism comes after a rough stretch as the wider benchmark suffered through losses in four of the past five weeks to close out a 2018 that saw more than $5 trillion evaporate from Asian markets.

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.