Daily Pulse

Canada

Many of Alberta's COVID-19 public health restrictions are being lifted today as part of a three-stage plan to reopen by summer. The province is entering the second stage, which required 60 per cent of those 12 and older to have had at least one vaccine shot and fewer than 500 infected patients in hospitals. Officials say 67 per cent of Albertans have received their first dose. Entertainment venues, including movie theatres, casinos and museums, are being allowed to reopen at one-third capacity. Restaurants can seat diners inside rather than just on patios, and private social gatherings outdoors can have up to 20 people. There are no longer any restrictions on youth and adult sports. Up to 150 people are being allowed at public outdoor events, and grandstands for sports and other entertainment can open at one-third capacity. Masking and distancing requirements are still in place. The final phase, which would lift a ban on indoor gatherings, is to occur once 70 per cent of eligible recipients have had at least one dose of vaccine and hospitalization rates continue to decline.

United-States

A group of House Democrats is circulating discussion drafts of antitrust bills that would force the biggest tech companies to change parts of their business models and curtail large acquisitions, according to copies obtained by CNBC. While the drafts could still change significantly prior to their introduction, as currently written, they could require business model overhauls for This link will open in a new tab. Apple and This link will open in a new tab. Amazon by limiting their ability to operate marketplaces for products and apps while selling their own goods and apps on those same stores. The bills would also make it harder for those companies plus beds, oxygen and medication while many doctors and other health-care workers succumbed to the disease.

This link will open in a new tab. Facebook and This link will open in a new tab. Alphabet (Google’s parent company) to complete large mergers, and would force them to make it easier for users to leave their platforms with their data intact. CNBC couldn’t immediately learn when the drafts will be introduced. The draft bills come after a 16-month investigation by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust into the four companies, which culminated in a This link will open in a new tab. nearly 450-page report from Democratic staff last fall. While Republicans on the subcommittee diverged from some of the Democrats’ more extreme proposals, several agreed with the main findings of monopoly power and anticompetitive behavior in the Democratic report and on the need to rein in Big Tech’s power with antitrust reform. The drafts don’t indicate whether any Republicans are supporting the bills.

Europe

The Group of Twenty (G-20) economies saw gross domestic product return to pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2021, but with large differences emerging between nations. GDP of the G-20 area grew by 0.8% in the first quarter, compared with the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released Thursday. Year-on-year GDP growth for the G-20 area rebounded to 3.4% in the first quarter of 2021, following a contraction of 0.7% in the previous quarter. China, where the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, recorded the highest annual growth (18.3%), while the U.K. recorded the largest annual fall (minus 6.1%). Europe fared particularly badly in the first quarter, a period when a third wave of Covid infections swept the region, in contrast with other countries. India, Turkey and China (whose GDP was already above pre-pandemic levels in the previous quarter) continued to see a recovery in the first quarter of 2021, growing by 2.1%, 1.7% and 0.6%, respectively. In addition, Australia, South Korea and Brazil saw growth return to pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter.

Asia

India’s daily reported death toll from the coronavirus crisis reached a record high on Thursday, with more than 6,000 people succumbing to the disease. That surpassed a record number of daily fatalities reported by the United States this year. India’s health ministry data showed 6,148 Covid-related deaths were recorded over a 24-hour period, as daily reported cases remained below 100,000 for the third consecutive day. India is fighting a devastating second wave of outbreak that started in February and accelerated in April and early May, which overwhelmed the country’s health-care infrastructure. The sector struggled with shortages of beds, oxygen and medication while many doctors and other health-care workers succumbed to the disease.

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.