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Daily Pulse

Canada

Le Chateau Inc. says its founder and his wife have left the insolvent company as it prepares to close its doors. Herschel Segal and his wife, Jane Silverstone Segal, resigned as directors effective Wednesday. Silverstone Segal had ceased to be board chairwoman and chief executive effective Oct. 26, shortly after it obtained creditor protection. Le Chateau is liquidating as it prepares to close after about 60 years of operation. Segal started the company in the late 1950s and later co-founded DavidsTea, which is also in creditor protection but is restructuring under the leadership of daughter Sarah.

Trans Mountain says it is shutting down construction on its pipeline expansion project until early January for safety reasons. Officials from the company and the Canada Energy Regulator said Wednesday that a contractor was seriously injured a day earlier at the site in Burnaby, B.C. In a statement Thursday, Trans Mountain says the company is enacting a voluntary, project-wide safety stand-down from Friday until Jan. 4. Construction at the Burnaby site had already stopped Wednesday after the injury. Ian Anderson, president and CEO of Trans Mountain, says there have been safety incidents over the past two months that are unacceptable to the company.

United-States

An influential Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Thursday overwhelmingly backed This link will open in a new tab. Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, a key step paving the way to distribute the second Covid-19 vaccine in the United States next week. The nonbinding decision, which was adopted 20-0 with one abstention, by the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee came exactly a week after the outside group of vaccine and infectious disease experts voted to recommend Pfizer and BioNtech’s vaccine. Prior to the vote, some members of the committee stressed that their endorsement for Moderna’s vaccine was not for a full FDA approval, reiterating that the agency will still need to review more data on safety and effectiveness.

Congress tried to put the finishing touches on a coronavirus relief deal Thursday as Washington drew closer to letting the government shut down and allowing millions to lose unemployment benefits. Leaders on Capitol Hill say they have come close to an agreement on sending $900 billion in aid to Americans. Lawmakers have run short on time to pass a government funding and pandemic rescue package before federal funding lapses at 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday. Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Senate Majority Leader This link will open in a new tab. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said a “bipartisan, bicameral agreement appears to be close at hand.” He noted it was “highly likely”

Congress would work through the weekend, and said lawmakers may have to pass a short-term funding measure to buy enough time to approve legislation.

Europe

The U.K. and the European Union are running out of time to agree terms on a post-Brexit trading arrangement, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has warned. Both sides have offered conflicting messages in recent days over the likelihood of a trade deal being agreed before Britain departs the EU’s orbit in two weeks’ time. Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels on Friday, Barnier said negotiations had reached “the moment of truth.” A deal would likely ensure tariff-free goods trade between the U.K. and the EU after Dec. 31, but This link will open in a new tab. key disputes over issues such as fisheries have continued to plague discussions in recent weeks.

On the data front, U.K. consumer confidence made its sharpest climb in eight years in December, with a survey released Friday from market research firm GfK jumping to -26 from -33 in November, as the rollout of the first Covid-19 vaccine program in the country lifted sentiment.

Asia

The Bank of Japan on Friday announced a six-month extension of its special program aimed at easing corporate financing pressures amid the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the yield target on the 10-year Japan government bond was set at around 0% while the short-term interest target was set to -0.1%. The Japanese central bank also said it will “conduct an assessment for further effective and sustainable monetary easing” as it looks to support the economy and achieve its ever elusive inflation target, with the findings likely to be out in March. Following the BOJ’s announcement, the This link will open in a new tab. Japanese yen traded at 103.39 per dollar, having seen levels above 103.8 against the greenback earlier in the trading week. Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly lower on Friday as investors reacted to developments from the Bank of Japan.

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.