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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

March 4, 2019

Canada

Canada’s already beaten-down oil industry is facing a fresh setback as regulatory issues bog down another key pipeline project. The roughly one-year delay to Enbridge Inc.’s expansion of its Line 3 conduit, announced last week, threatens to prolong a shortage of pipeline space that has made it difficult for Canada’s drillers to ship their crude to refineries. That pinch caused a crisis in the industry last year, sending local oil prices to record lows and prompting the government of Alberta to embark on an unprecedented intervention in the market. Enbridge’s Line 3, which would help move 370,000 more barrels of crude out of Alberta, is particularly important because the province’s government was counting on it to help end mandated production cuts. The delay may scramble plans for drillers who were counting on the line and shift investors’ focus to efforts by producers and Alberta’s government to move more crude by rail.

United States

The U.S. and China are close to a trade deal that could lift most or all U.S. tariffs as long as Beijing follows through on pledges ranging from better protecting intellectual-property rights to buying a significant amount of American products, two people familiar with the discussions said. Chinese officials made clear in a series of negotiations with the U.S. in recent weeks that removing levies on $200 billion of Chinese goods quickly was necessary to finalize any deal, said the people, who weren’t uthorized to talk publicly about the deliberations. That’s the amount the Trump administration imposed after China retaliated against the U.S.’s first salvo of $50 billion in tariffs that kicked off the eight-month trade war.



Alexa won’t be replacing doctors anytime soon, but Amazon says artificial intelligence can help hospitals become more efficient. The internet giant said Monday that it’s working with a Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital in Boston to test how AI can simplify medical care. It’s the latest sign of powerhouse tech companies like Amazon and Google deepening their reach into America’s $3.5 trillion health-care market. While the tech industry has high hopes that powerful computing tools can improve diagnoses and treatment, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s first projects with Amazon.com Inc. are less about sophisticated therapies and more about making day-to-day tasks like patient scheduling more cost-effective.


Europe

With the March 12 deadline looming to put the Brexit deal to another vote in Parliament, Theresa May pledged a 1.6 billion-pound ($2.1 billion) boost for poorer areas of the U.K. Her office said negotiations with Brussels were ongoing over changes to the so-called Irish backstop.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a no-deal Brexit could lead to drug shortages in the Republic of Ireland and on mainland Europe, as negotiations continue with the European Union over securing a withdrawal agreement acceptable to the British parliament.

Asia

Japan’s benchmark 10-year yield rose to zero percent for the first time in more than a month after the central bank created room to reduce its debt purchases during March.

China is planning to cut the value-added tax rate that covers the manufacturing sector by 3 percentage points as part of measures to support the slowing economy, a person familiar with the matter said.

  

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