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Daily Pulse

One of our most accessible tools, this daily comment keeps you abreast of developments on the North American and international financial markets.

Michel Doucet

Michel Doucet
Vice-President and
Portfolio Manager

September 17, 2021

Canada

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan board has set new targets to accompany its plan to tackle climate change and curb greenhouse gas emissions tied to its multi-billion dollar portfolio. Canada's largest single-profession pension plan said Thursday it aims to slash the carbon emissions intensity of its investments by 45 per cent by 2025 and by two-thirds by 2030, compared against its 2019 baseline. The targets come after the $227.7-billion fund announced in January a commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The pledge reflects the mounting pressure on major institutional investors to bankroll clean energy and divest assets that contribute to climate change. Advocates have long called on massive fund administrators around the world to invest in more ethical and sustainable ways, a call that some institutional investors appear to be heeding. The manager of Norway's sovereign wealth fund, for example, said earlier this year that it plans to halt investments in a number of Canadian oil and gas companies after concluding they produce unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Canada's large pension plans have also been targeted by environmental and human rights campaigns in recent years. The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board came under scrutiny for its stake in two private prison operators that ran migrant detention camps along the U.S.-Mexico border. The CPPIB eventually sold its shares in 2019.

United States

A key part of President Joe Biden’s plan to combat Covid is in jeopardy as a Food and Drug Administration vaccine advisory committee meets Friday to debate and vote on Pfizer and BioNTech’s application to offer booster shots to the general public. The vote by the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee – scheduled for around 2:30 p.m. ET – comes as some scientists, including at least two at the FDA, say they aren’t entirely convinced every American who has received the Pfizer vaccine needs extra doses at this time. In documents released ahead of the advisory committee meeting, FDA scientists declined to take a stance on whether to back third shots, saying U.S. regulators haven’t independently reviewed or verified all the available data to support the use of boosters. It sets the stage for a tense meeting Friday as the Biden administration has said it wants to begin offering booster shots to the general public as early as next week, pending authorization from the FDA. The move is part of the administration’s broader plan to confront a higher number of Covid cases in the U.S. fueled by the fast-spreading delta variant.

Europe

European markets were mixed on Friday as global investors continued to weigh the prospect of slowing economic growth. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was roughly flat by late morning, having earlier been up by as much as 0.7%. Travel and leisure stocks added 1.4% to lead gains while basic resources fell 1.5%.Data on Friday showed that U.K. retail sales fell unexpectedly in August, dropping 0.9% month on month against a Reuters average forecast for a 0.5% rise. The fourth consecutive monthly decline marks the longest negative streak since records began. Euro zone inflation surged to a 10-year high in August, according to official data published Friday, with consumer prices rising 3% year-on-year and 0.4% month-on-month. The prints pose further questions for the European Central Bank (ECB), which has committed to look beyond what it believes is a transitory spike in inflation. In corporate news, French automaker Renault announced Thursday that it will ax up to 2,000 engineering and support jobs in France amid a mass transition toward electric vehicles.

Asia

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Friday, with shares of China Evergrande Group continuing to take a beating. Shares of China Evergrande Group fell 3.42% on Friday, clawing back from losses after plummeting more than 11% earlier, as fears over its debt problems continued to weigh on investor sentiment. The benchmark Hang Seng index in Hong Kong closed 1.03% higher, recovering partially from heavy losses earlier in the week. Still, the index declined nearly 5% for the week amid regulatory concerns surrounding sectors such as technology and casinos. Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher, with the Shanghai composite up 0.19% while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.71%. Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan climbed 0.58% while the Topix index gained 0.48%. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.33% higher. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.76%. Shares of Australian miners dropped following a recent decline in iron ore prices: Rio Tinto declined 4.7% and BHP shed 3.67% while Fortescue Metals Group plunged 11.48%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.33%.

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