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Daily Pulse

Canada

Canadian paper and packaging company Paper Excellence is exploring a deal to acquire U.S. rival Domtar Corp., according to people familiar with the matter. Domtar rose as much as 21 per cent in after-market trading. The companies are working with advisers on a potential transaction that would take U.S.-listed Domtar private, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. A deal could value Domtar’s shares in the mid-US$50s, one of the people said. No final decision has been made and talks could fall through.

United-States

President Joe Biden and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell toughened their positions Monday over the tax increases for millionaires and corporations that Biden has proposed to fund his sweeping infrastructure and education plans. “We’re open to doing a roughly $600 billion package which deals with what all of us agree is ‘infrastructure,’” McConnell said at an event in Kentucky. “And to talk about how to pay for that in any way other than reopening the 2017 tax reform bill.” Raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, up from 21%, is the linchpin of Biden’s proposal to pay for the American Jobs Plan, a massive revamping of the nation’s infrastructure and energy sector that would create jobs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But McConnell on Monday called the 2017 tax cuts among the most significant domestic accomplishments of the past four years under former President Donald Trump. “We’re not going to revisit that,” he said.

Europe

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) developed nations are to meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the most pressing geopolitical challenges facing the world, including Russia and China. The U.K. is hosting G-7 foreign and development ministers in the first face-to-face meetings since the coronavirus pandemic began, and the first gathering of the group’s foreign ministers since 2019. Geopolitical issues that the U.K. said “threaten to undermine democracy, freedoms and human rights” will be on the agenda Tuesday, including “relations with Russia, China, and Iran, as well as the crisis in Myanmar, the violence in Ethiopia, and the ongoing war in Syria,” the government This link will open in a new tab. said in a statement. Russia’s “ongoing malign activity,” the U.K. said, including the build-up of troops on the border with Ukraine, its imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the situation in Belarus, are high on the agenda.

Asia

Oil giant Saudi Aramco reported a 30% jump in net income Tuesday, in a sign of a continued recovery from the previous year’s oil market crash that saw full-year earnings for the state firm slashed in half. In a release published Tuesday, the company said net income rose to $21.7 billion in the first three months of the year, up from $16.6 billion in the same period last year. It beat some analysts’ estimates of $17.24 billion, despite lower oil production in February and March. The figure nears the firm’s net income level in the first quarter of 2019, which was $22.2 billion. The company said free cash flow in the first quarter of 2021 was $18.3 billion, up from $15 billion over the same period last year. Saudi Arabia’s behemoth oil producer also maintained its dividend, with $18.8 billion due to be paid out in both the first and second quarter.

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.