Bargain hunters and pranksters up before dawn to line up at Canadas

For a department store famed for stocking everything under the sun, the crowd outside seemed just as diverse, and they braved the icy temperatures.“Our one friend convinced us yesterday, but then she decided not to come. Too early and too cold, I guess,” said Tamara Valenti, a student at the University of Guelph as she huddled alongside the few of her friends in the cold.They showed up at 5:30 a.m. and were first in line. Their goal was to find printer ink cartridges at a cheaper price than the competitors.It looks like a Zellers but it’s got the name Target [npooyala src=”N0dXR2OTrfpxGV-hRWFEJUOa84bmhUXh”]Behind them was Rhonda Weatherall, a local resident who remembers when Walmart launched its first store in Guelph several years ago.“I was the first one in,” she said. “So I kind of wanted to come and compare.”But after a walk through the aisles of the Target store she “wasn’t overly impressed.”“There wasn’t a lot of great deals that I saw,” she said.“There’s lots of employees in there to help … but it’s no different than any other. I mean, it looks like a Zellers but it’s got the name Target.”Proving that it’s more than just another department store could be one of Target’s biggest challenges as it rolls out stores across most of the country in 2013, after more than two years of hype. The company acquired most of the real estate assets operated by Zellers for nearly $2 billion in late 2010.The U.S. retailer opened the three stores on Tuesday as part of a test program for its phased rollout of the brand. The first locations are in Guelph as well as surrounding communities Fergus, Ont., and Milton, Ont., while others will follow across the province later this month.Working in the retailer’s favour is a high level of curiosity. In Guelph, by the time the doors officially opened at 8 a.m., there were already a hundred people in line outside, and several hundred more followed in the hours afterwards.The first ones inside the door were greeted by a line of enthusiastic Target employees who cheered, clapped and high-fived the shoppers, playing up the event.“C’mon everybody, grab a cart!” one employee shouted, before noticing one customer who followed her encouragement.“Woo! She grabbed a cart!”The first shoppers out the door in Guelph were Scott Lester and Sam Skelhorn, two university students who had camped outside the store in a tent emblazoned with the Union Jack. Their plan was to turn the Target launch on its head by editing the event into an Internet video, part of a series where they do “ridiculous things like camping in front of a Target for three hours,” Skelhorn said.After only a few minutes inside the store, both of them had picked their first items. Lester chose a copy of Disney’s “Tarzan” animated movie on DVD.“I’ve been meaning to pick it up for awhile,” Lester said. “It’s a classic from my childhood.”Skelhorn said when he walked into the store he immediately grabbed a copy of Michael Bolton’s “Time, Love and Tenderness” on CD.“He’s always captivated me with his beautiful voice,” he joked. “I don’t have class today, so I’ll probably just listen to it on loop.”Inside the store, the more serious customers were noticeably paying attention to prices, some of them discussing how they compared to Walmart.“(It was) very nice, clean, friendly, and a lot of bargains,” said Andrena Wilson after buying vitamins and Fresca soda.“I just wanted to have a look to see if it’s the same as over the border.”Target plans to open another 21 stores throughout Ontario this month, although dates haven’t been announced.Overall, the company is expected to open between 125 and 135 locations in Canada.After the Ontario rollout, Target will begin moving into western provinces throughout the year and eventually into Quebec.None of those opening dates have been announced. GUELPH, Ont. — The Canadian launch of discount retailer Target attracted a mix of bargain hunters, curious shoppers and even a few pranksters on Tuesday as the company opened three locations in southwestern Ontario.Just before dawn a handful of locals had lined up at the Guelph, Ont., store, each with different plans for what they’d do once inside. Some people had mental shopping lists, others wanted to weigh it against Walmart, and one group of friends said they would turn the hyped event into a funny YouTube video.Canadian Press read more

TSX holds on to gains even as Dow snaps 10day win streak

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed higher Friday, helped by energy and mining stocks, while U.S. markets gave back a bit of the enthusiastic gains of recent sessions.The S&P/TSX composite was up 30.12 points at 12,830.03, while the TSX Venture Exchange rose 4.54 points to 1,116.61.The Canadian dollar was up 0.29 of a cent at 98.11 cents US, backing off a three-week high of 98.22 reached in the morning.After eight record high sessions and 10 consecutive days of gains, the Dow industrials gave back some of that on mixed economic data, dropping 25.03 points to 14,514.11.The Nasdaq was down 9.86 points at 3,249.07 and the S&P 500 index slid 2.53 points to 1,560.70.“The U.S. drive has been pretty relentless. Sooner or later, you’re going to have a down day,” said Colin Cieszynski, market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.“You’re at a point where some people are just looking for any excuse to take profits because we’ve had such a run the last few days.”In commodities, the April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange added 42 cents to close at US$93.45 a barrel, as the TSX energy sector gained 1.1 per cent.Telecom stocks ran up 0.4 per cent with BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) ahead three cents to $46.74.The financial sector was also higher, rising 0.1 per cent, as Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) said its fund management joint venture with the Bank of Beijing has received regulatory approval for a license to operate in China. Its shares were up 33 cents to $60.33.Royal Bank (TSX:RY) shares rose 16 cents to $61.43, while Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) was up five cents to $15.48.The Canadian Real Estate Association reported that home and condo resales fell 2.1 per cent in February from the previous month, when they logged a small gain. On a year-over-year basis, last month’s activity was down 15.8 per cent.Meanwhile, in the U.S. a spike in gasoline prices drove up expenses in February. The Labour Department says consumer prices increased a seasonally adjusted 0.7 per cent last month from January, the biggest rise since June 2009. Three-fourths of the increase reflected a 9.1 per cent surge in gas prices.The concern about inflation pushed gold prices higher with April bullion gaining $1.90 to US$1,592.60 an ounce.May copper lost two cents to US$3.52 to pound.Production at U.S. factories rose last month, weighted heavily in autos and automotive parts. The Federal Reserve said factory output rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8 per cent month over month in February after having fallen 0.3 per cent in January.In European economic developments, a summit of the 27 European Union leaders in Brussels failed to deliver any fundamental change in economic strategy though there was more talk of the need to promote growth rather than just cut debt. read more

Closing Bell TSX adds to losses on central bank concerns flagging Chinese

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market piled on more losses Monday as traders continued to sell off risky assets like equities and commodities amid signs that the U.S. Federal Reserve is getting ready to cut back on stimulus and more worry about China’s economic rebound.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 11,836.86 -158.80 -1.32%S&P 500 — 1,573.09 -19.34 -1.21%Dow — 14,659.56 -139.84 0.94%Nasdaq — 3,320.76 -36.49 -1.09%The S&P/TSX composite index closed off the worst levels of the session, coming back from a 237-point plunge to finish down 158.8 points at 11,836.86. The loss came on top of a slide of 192 points or 1.57% last week.The Canadian dollar continued to feel the pressure of a rising greenback but the currency was well off sessions lows as strength in the greenback moderated mid-afternoon and oil prices rose sharply. The loonie closed down 0.27 of a cent to 95.37 cents US, after earlier falling as low as 94.75 cents US, its lowest level since early October 2011.U.S. indexes also finished in the red but also well off session lows with the Dow Jones industrials closing down 139.84 points at 14,659.56 on top of a 1.8% slide last week. The Nasdaq composite index gave back 36.49 points to 3,320.76 and the S&P 500 index lost 19.34 points to 1,573.09.Markets started to nose-dive last Wednesday after Fed chairman Ben Bernanke signalled that the U.S. central bank feels economic data has improved to a point where it could start to wind up its bond buying program this year and wrap it up by the middle of next year.Central banks have kept interest rates low by various means, including the Fed’s bond buying program, to stimulate the economy — providing a major boost to U.S. stock markets. For example, the Dow is still up 10% year to date.“(Bernanke) actually picked up his forecast for economic growth, (and) because of that he is saying he may actually be able to remove or lessen the stimulus,” said Allan Small, senior adviser at DWM Securities.“And you would think that would be a positive.”China also pressured markets as the government allowed commercial lending rates to soar in a move analysts said was aimed at curbing a booming underground lending industry.Analysts say the spike late Thursday in the country’s interbank lending rate to over 13% was part of an effort to trim off-balance-sheet lending that could threaten the financial stability of the world’s second-largest economy.But markets feared the move could also hurt economic growth. China’s major state-owned banks are unwilling to lend to any but their biggest clients, so the vast majority of smaller businesses must rely on informal lending.Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index plummeted five% to a four-year low.Indications that the Fed will ease up on its US$85 billion of bond purchases each month continued to send the U.S. dollar and bond yields higher. The benchmark 10-year Treasury stood at 2.55% late Monday afternoon, off highs of over 2.636% earlier in the morning. But that is still up from 2.25% prior to Bernanke’s news conference last Wednesday and from 1.6% in early May.“When you see the 10-year bond go from 1.6% to 2.6%, that’s a huge phenomenon that doesn’t happen that quickly (normally) and I think that is a major thing that is spooking everyone,” Small said.“You’re looking at interest rates on the rise.”The stronger greenback also helped depress commodity prices and raise concerns about demand. That is because a stronger greenback makes it more expensive for holders of other currencies to buy oil and metals, which are dollar-denominated.The base metals sector led declines, down 6.38% as July copper on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved closer to the US$3 level, down another seven cents to US$3.02 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) shed $1.55 to C$21.22 while First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) fell $1.33 to $14.29.Gold prices also continued to fall, down $14.90 to US$1,277.10 an ounce, pushing the gold sector down about 4.25%. Bullion fell to three-year lows last week in the wake of the indication by the Fed of lower bond purchases. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) fell 96 cents to C$24.64.Elsewhere in the gold sector, slumping gold prices have resulted in Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) intensifying its downsizing plan. The miner is eliminating about 100 jobs or almost a third of its corporate staff at its headquarters in Toronto and other offices. Barrick is also dealing with operational and regulatory issues at some of its mines and projects. Barrick shares fell 43 cents to $17.28.Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs cut its outlook on the metal for 2013 and 2014, citing growing price risks from an improving U.S. economic picture. The bank now expects gold to end this year at $1,300 an ounce, down 9.4% on its previous forecast, and at $1,050 an ounce by the end of 2014, down 17.3% on its earlier outlook.The energy sector fell 1.23% while the August crude contract clawed back some of last week’s four% slide to advance $1.49 to US$95.18 a barrel. Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) declined 50 cents to C$29.08.Traders also looking at what damage heavy rains and flooding will have on Alberta’s energy business.Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) is working to contain and clean up a weekend spill of synthetic crude into a wetland area and small lake in northern Alberta. Enbridge also shut other pipelines in the area as a precaution, including the Athabasca and Waupisoo pipelines, as the province grapples with major flooding, including in the city of Calgary where Enbridge has its head office.Enbridge said in its initial assessment that unusually heavy rains may have resulted in a ground movement that affected the pipeline, which is part of its Athabasca network. Its shares were down 87 cents to $42.64.The industrials group fell 1.22% as Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) gave back $1.92 to $122.18.Rising U.S. bond yields also put pressure on interest sensitive stocks on the TSX. In the utilities sector, Just Energy Group (TSX:JE) fell 25 cents to $6.40. Telecoms also fell with BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) down 68 cents to $42.92.Here’s what investors were watching MondayHigh bond yields flash warning of fresh financial crisisWhy China is purposely pushing its banking system to the edge of a crisisBarrick Gold Corp to lay off third of corporate staff in gold slumpChina stocks plummet most in 4 years into bear marketUNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Durable Goods orders (May): Economists expect 3% rise 9:00 a.m.S&P Case-Shiller home price index (April): Economists expect 1.2% rise from the month before, 10.6% year over year FHFA House price index (April): Economists expect 1.1% gain 10 a.m.New home sales (May): Economists expect 1.3% rise Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index (June): Economists expect a reading of 75, down from the month before CORPORATE NEWSUNITED STATESWalgreen Co Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 91¢ a share Carnival Corp. & plc Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 93¢ a share Apollo Group Inc Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 85¢ a share read more

CRA aims to help make taxes less of a pain in the

VANCOUVER — Taxes may foster fear and panic among many small and medium-sized businesses owners in Canada, but a new government initiative aims to make them less of a pain in the app.A new mobile application released Thursday by the Canada Revenue Agency for Apple iOS, Google Android and BlackBerry allows business owners to create alerts for payments, returns and remittances.Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay introduced the app in Vancouver, saying the technology was developed after members of the business community told government they wanted convenient reminders by a mobile device, not by mail, about agency deadlines.“It is more about just trying to help small businesses focus on what their priorities are, which is their business, and not having to get all these paper reminders and be in a bit of a panic,” she said.The free download — a first for the agency — is available on the CRA website and at app stores.Ms. Findlay said the app is recommended for small and medium-sized businesses with annual revenues less than $20-million and fewer than 500 employees.Laura Jones of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the app is a less formal and more modern way to remind people about their tax obligations. “A letter from CRA can be a bit scary,” she said. “Even if it is just a reminder about filing, it can give you that sort of moment of panic.”The app may sound like a small thing, but most small businesses have fewer than five employees and do not have administrative assistants, she said.“They are juggling an awful lot of different obligations from various levels of government, as well as their own obligations to their customers and their employees. So something as simple as having a reminder can make a big difference in your day.”The Canadian Press read more

TSX Dow suffer tripledigit drops as markets stumble on Chinese uncertainty Fed

TORONTO — North American markets were lower Wednesday amid persistent uncertainty over the health of the Chinese economy.The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 157.24 points at 14,036.63, its sixth decline in the last seven sessions.Events in China continued to roil global markets amid fears the value of the yuan will continue to erode. Those fears prompted a wild ride on China’s Shanghai Composite Index, which plunged as much as five per cent before eventually closing up 1.2 per cent. The ripple effect was felt across several key commodities as oil prices plumbed multi-year lows, following an unexpected increase in U.S. crude inventories.October crude, which is now the heaviest traded contract, was down $1.85 at US$41.27 a barrel, while the September crude contract was down $1.82 at US$40.80 a barrel.Energy stocks were by far the biggest drag on the TSX, falling 4.3 per cent.In other commodities, natural gas edged up half a cent to US$2.71 per thousand cubic feet while copper lost a penny to US$2.28 a pound.Gold marched ahead $11 to US$1,127.90 an ounce, marking its biggest single-session rally in a week as the TSX gold sector rose 3.7 per cent.The Canadian dollar, which is sensitive to movements in key commodities, was down 0.31 of a U.S. cent at 76.28 cents US after having fallen below the 76-cent mark earlier in the session.In New York, markets were also off earlier lows as traders took in minutes from the latest policy meeting of the Federal Reserve Board for clues as to when the U.S. central bank may start to hike interest rates from current historically low levels.Minutes from the July meeting of the Fed showed a move closer to raising interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade, but there were concerns that a significant economic slowdown in China could pose risks to the U.S. economy.Policy-makers also expressed concerns that inflation remains too low to justify an interest rate increase.The Dow Jones industrial average was down 162.61 points at 17,348.73, while the Nasdaq dropped 40.30 points to 5,019.05 and the S&P 500 lost 17.31 points to 2,079.61.After the Fed minutes were released, the probability of a rate hike in September dropped to 36 per cent from earlier estimates of roughly 50 per cent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Conditions were not quite ready at this stage for Fed liftoff,” said Todd Mattina, chief economist and strategist at Mackenzie Investments.He said rate hikes would indirectly boost the U.S. dollar as interest rate differentials widened, along with the possibility other countries may try to follow China’s lead by devaluing their currencies.“All of these tightening financial conditions in the U.S. would be negative for U.S. inflation and potentially U.S. growth,” Mattina added. read more

TNA may consider action on Sidharthan

The main committee in the ‘Tamil People’s Council’ includes Tamil National Alliance members Dharmalingham Sidharthan and Suresh Premachandran and Tamil National People’s Front leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam. (Colombo Gazette) ITAK is the main political party in the TNA and Sidharthan, leader of the People’s Liberation Front (PLOTE), entered Parliament after winning a seat through the TNA at the August election. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) may consider taking action against Parliamentarian Dharmalingham Sidharthan for joining the Tamil People’s Council.Illangai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) General Secretary Mavai Senathirajah has called for an inquiry to be conducted on Sidharthan who contested the last Parliamentary election under the ITAK ticket. Senathirajah has said that Sidharthan should be asked to explain as to why he joined the Tamil People’s Council without the approval of the TNA. There have been concerns among members of the TNA that the Tamil People’s Council is looking at being an alternative Tamil political party.Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran was recently appointed as the head of the new organisation comprising Tamil politicians and civil society members. read more

JVP claims traffic police given targets to collect fines

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) claims the traffic police have been given targets to collect fines from motorists for road rule violations.JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament today that collecting fines is one way the Government is looking at raising money. “The police have been given targets for a week to collect more fines,” he claimed.The country is said to be facing a serious financial crisis and Dissanayake said that the Government is looking at collecting higher taxes and more fines from the public to cover its costs and pay outstanding debts. (Colombo Gazette)

President asserts those who do their job properly will not be investigated

“Today, some people in the public service are refusing to sign documents due to a fear that they will have to face investigations on financial crimes.  But officials who execute their duties in a proper manner will never have to face such investigations,” the President said. The President said that the Government had taken steps to implement the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to take forward the good governance concept.He said that the 19th Amendment has also prevented political revenge from taking place in the public sector. He made these remarks while addressing the 33rd Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, held at the Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond) in Colombo today. President Maithripala Sirisena today asserted that Government officials who do their job properly will not be investigated for financial crimes.The President said the Government is prepared to back Government officials who fulfill their responsibilities for the people. “Today public officials have an opportunity to fulfill their duties and responsibilities without the interference of politicians while protecting the dignity of their service,” he said.The President recalled that he became the head of state from a minor position in the public service as a result of loosing it due to political revenge.President Sririsena said that he believes State officials will fulfill their responsibilities and duties to create a public service which is free from fraud, waste and corruption under the good governance concept. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Defence Ministry insists no travel restrictions on foreigners

According to the Defence Ministry the official website of the Defence Ministry was subjected to a technical upgrade recently and all old news publications have been reappearing under a new modified date 03-03-2016. as the technical change was carried out on that date. Certain web sites have taken advantage of this technical glitch and have published news posts stating that the registration for Foreign Passport holders traveling to the North was back in force and thereby have attempted to mislead the public. “The decision to lift the travel restrictions imposed on foreign passport holders to the Northdue to the security situations then (2014) was taken after considering the prevailing security situationat the first Security Council Meeting of the New Government held under the patronage of HisExcellency the President Maithripala Sirisena on 16th January 2015,” the Defence Ministry said. It said that the present Government has assured that any foreign passport holder travelling to Sri Lanka will have unhindered access to the North or any part of the country without any restrictions or priorregistrations. (Colombo Gazette) The Defence Ministry today insisted that there is no travel restriction on foreigners visiting the North and East.The Defence Ministry statement said that certain websites have attempted to mislead the public and the international fora by misinterpreting a news article published in the official website of the Ministry of Defence of Sri Lanka ( on 30th October 2014 under the headline “Foreign Passport holders traveling to the North”. read more

Solheim says role in Sri Lanka taught him valuable lessons

He was elected to the UNEP position for a four-year term by the General Assembly on 13 May this year, succeeding Achim Steiner of Germany, who led the agency for the past 10 years.In Sri Lanka Solheim played a key role as peace negotiator between the LTTE and the Government. (Colombo Gazette) Former Norwegian peace negotiator Erik Solheim says he gained valuable lessons through his role in Sri Lanka.As a negotiator of the peace process in Sri Lanka between 1998 to 2005, Solheim said he had gained valuable lessons, including the importance of dialogue and compromise. “In my view you should always try to talk even with political leaders as well as guerrilla leaders or terrorists leaders who do not seem to be amendable to compromise – let’s try talking,” he said. Solheim was speaking at the UN as the new head of the United Nations environment agency, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). read more