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Daily Pulse

Canada

Ontario introduced a $17-billion package Wednesday to support the province through the COVID-19 outbreak, including an influx of cash for the health sector, direct payments to parents, and tax breaks for businesses. Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the government is confident that every dollar invested through the plan that saves a life or a job is a dollar well spent. The spending boost includes a $1-billion COVID-19 contingency fund, nearly $1 billion more for hospitals, and more personal protective equipment for front-line workers. Measures also include a one-time payment for parents of $200 per child 12 years old and under, doubling payments for low-income seniors and suspending student loan payments for six months. The plan includes both $7 billion in new spending and $10 billion in tax and other deferrals. The moves will contribute to a major hit to Ontario's bottom line, pushing the deficit from $9 billion to a projected $20.5 billion for 2020-21 – a level not seen since the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

United-States

The Senate passed a historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday night, as it tries to stem the destruction the pandemic has brought to American lives and wallets. The chamber approved the mammoth bill – the largest economic rescue package in U.S. history – in a unanimous 96-0 vote after days of furious negotiations, partisan sniping and raised tempers on the Senate floor. The bill now heads to the House, which will push to pass it by voice vote Friday morning because most representatives are out of Washington.

Micron (MU) came out with quarterly earnings of $0.45 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.38 per share. This compares to earnings of $1.71 per share a year ago. These figures are adjusted for non-recurring items. This quarterly report represents an earnings surprise of 18.42%. Over the last four quarters, the company has surpassed consensus EPS estimates three times. Micron posted revenues of $4.80 billion for the quarter ended February 2020, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3.04%. This compares to year-ago revenues of $5.84 billion.

Europe

The Bank of England is expected to say on Thursday that it is ready to take further radical action to prop up the economy and Britain’s finance minister will announce help for self-employed workers hit by the coronavirus shutdown. The BoE, which has made two emergency cuts to interest rates this month, boosted its bond-buying programme by a further 9% of British economic output, and taken a string of other measures to help lending, is likely to hold off on further action when it makes a statement at 1200 GMT after its scheduled March meeting. But Governor Andrew Bailey, who has been in the job for less than two weeks, and his fellow top BoE officials are likely to say they will take further radical measures – probably another increase in their quantitative easing programme – if needed to steer Britain’s economy out of its expected slump.

Asia

Singapore has set aside another 48 billion Singapore dollars ($33.17 billion) to support its businesses and households after official preliminary estimates showed the Southeast Asian economy shrinking by more than expected in the first quarter of this year. The additional spending on stimulus came just a month after the country announced 6.4 billion Singapore dollars ($4.4 billion) of economic and health-care measures to tide through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Together, the two support packages account for around 11% of Singapore’s gross domestic product.

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.