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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 7, 2018

Canada

Canadian crude prices are plunging once again as repairs were completed on Alberta’s second-biggest oil sands upgrader and production surged from a new mine. Synthetic crude, a light grade produced in upgraders, fell Thursday to the biggest discount to West Texas Intermediate futures since December 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Prices dropped a day after Suncor Energy Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Williams said at a conference Wednesday that repairs on the Syncrude Canada Ltd. upgrader, which shut after a power disruption in June, were complete and the last of three sections of the plant was ready to start operation. He also said that Suncor’s new Fort Hills oil sands mine was ramping up faster than planned after oil production started earlier this year. The mine is expected to operate at 90 percent of its capacity by October. “With Syncrude Canada returning to full rates steadily, more stocks are being built up in Western Canada’s storage.

The Bank of Canada’s top officials debated whether to accelerate the pace of potential interest rate hikes, before finally choosing to stick to their current “gradual” path.

Talks between the U.S. and Canada have seemed upbeat, but are not expected to lead to a deal this week, a Canadian government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity

United States

Cisco Systems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co. as well as other prominent technology companies and retailers made a last-minute push to convince President Donald Trump to reverse course on a plan to impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports
America’s labor market continues to run hot, even if wages remain cool. Economic data point to a positive feedback loop, boosted by tax cuts, that’s kept hiring strong: consumers are more optimistic and spending more on goods and services, and thus propelling companies and factories to add more people to cope with increased demand. It’s kept the Federal Reserve on a path of gradual interest-rate hikes. The question is how long employers can sustain the current pace of hiring as the pool of workers shrinks and risks litter the road ahead, including emerging-market turmoil and a widening trade war.

Europe

Populist leaders in Rome need to strengthen their country’s finances or risk jeopardizing Italy’s position at the center of European affairs, Pierre Moscovici, European Union Economic Affairs Commissioner, said. Coalition leaders -- and the academics appointed to referee their tussles -- have been sending contradictory signals about how far they’ll push next year’s budget deficit as they try to square ambitious election promises with the reality of Italy’s mountainous public debt.

The meteoric rise of the Sweden Democrats has stunned those who thought Scandinavia’s biggest economy was beyond the reach of nationalist extremists. From being an after-thought with barely 3 percent of the vote 12 years ago, polls now show it could win the backing of almost 20 percent of the electorate on Sunday. Some polls even suggest it might become the biggest group in Sweden’s parliament.

Asia

China’s foreign currency holdings dropped slightly last month, signaling that declines in the currency have yet to cause significant capital outflows. Reserves declined by $8.2 billion to $3.110 trillion in August, the People’s Bank of China said Friday. That compares with $3.118 trillion the previous month and the median forecast of $3.115 trillion in a Bloomberg survey of economists

  

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