Owners of small Canadian firms have grown increasingly concerned about future business prospects, with the economy poised for a slowdown. Small business confidence weakened to 56.1 in November, the biggest decline this year and to the lowest since March, according to a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The share of owners who expect their firm to be “much weaker” in the next 12 months reached its highest level in more than three years. Back then, Canada’s economy grew by a mere 1% amid a prolonged deterioration of oil prices that hurt investment in one of the nation’s largest industries.
President Donald Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan to meet with both the country’s president and U.S. troops – saying that peace talks with the Taliban have resumed amid a push for a cease-fire and to reduce U.S. deployment in the region. The president landed at Bagram Airfield around 8:30 p.m. local time Thursday and greeted U.S. soldiers over a turkey dinner before meeting with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani at the airfield’s Air Force headquarters. Trump summoned reporters for part of their meeting and said talks with the Taliban are ongoing. The U.S. wants the Taliban to agree to a cease-fire and will continue to reduce its troop commitment to the region, Trump said.
Gold headed for its biggest monthly drop in three years as lingering optimism over U.S.-China trade deal eased demand for haven assets. President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that talks on the first phase of a trade agreement were nearly done. Clouding the outlook was possible fallout from Trump signing legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters. While that prompted China to threaten retaliation, Beijing stopped short of any immediate action and didn’t offer any details. Gold is down 3.7% this month, the most since November 2016, when Trump won the U.S. presidential election. Non-interest bearing bullion also took a hit when the Federal Reserve signaled a pause in monetary easing after cutting rates three times this year, and Chairman Jerome Powell struck an upbeat tone in gauging the ability of policy makers to extend the record U.S. economic expansion.
German unemployment unexpectedly dropped this month as a slump in manufacturing showed signs of stabilizing and the trade tensions that have weighed on exporters eased. In a report that’s likely to damp any expectations of German fiscal stimulus, the number of people out of work slid by 16,000, compared with estimates for an increase of 6,000. The jobless rate held at 5%, near a record low. The drop in those out of work is good news for the economy after earlier figures Friday showed a sharp drop in retail sales.
Boris Johnson will try to recapture the spirit of the 2016 referendum as he seeks to convince Brexit supporters he still needs their votes even though polls show him on course for election victory next month. Johnson warned against complacency late Thursday, saying there is still a risk of a coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn, even after polling analysis suggested the Labour party could lose districts it has held for decades. The prime minister signaled it would be unhelpful for Donald Trump to intervene in the U.K. election when the U.S. president visits London next week. Johnson cited Barack Obama’s comments during the 2016 referendum campaign as an example of the potential for foreign leaders’ involvement to backfire.
Japan looks set to re-embrace the power of public spending with one of its biggest ever stimulus packages. Slowing global growth, a higher sales tax and a string of natural disasters are giving policy makers in Tokyo plenty of reasons to lead a world-wide shift toward a double-barreled approach of supporting the economy through fiscal measures and ultra-loose monetary policy. That’s good news for the Bank of Japan, which has appeared reluctant to ramp up its own massive stimulus program, as it strains at the limits of effectiveness.