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More Canadians expect annual bonus (Most will save it or pay debt)

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Dec. 3, 2012.

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Bonus expectations rise
More Canadians expect to get a holiday bonus this year despite the trying times, a new survey suggests, and the majority of those who do aren't going to spend it.

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The Bank of Montreal poll released today shows about 25 per cent of working people expect the year-end payout. Of those who are actually eligible for a bonus, 44 per cent expect one, a finding well up from last year.

The majority of those who expect it – 60 per cent – believe the payout will be the same as last year, while 26 per cent expect more and 14 per cent less.

What's really interesting is what people plan to do with the money. Twenty-six per cent would save or invest it, 25 per cent would cut their debts, and 20 per cent would use the money to buy holiday gifts.

Less than 10 per cent would "reward" themselves by buying something (seems like my category), and 9 per cent would take a vacation.

Saputo in major deal
Canada's Saputo Inc. has struck a $1.45-billion (U.S.) deal to acquire Morningstar Foods LLC, a major expansion in the United States.

The Canadian dairy company is buying its U.S. rival from Dean Foods Co., The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

Morningstar also produces dairy items, including creamer, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese and "half and half." (And, no, the deal's all cash.)

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It has some 2,000 employees and 10 plants in nine states.

On a pro-forma basis, the combined businesses would have meant revenue of $8.6-billion (Canadian) in the year ended Sept. 30.

China looks better
China's economy continues to perk up, buoying the hopes of investors.

Purchasing managers indexes released by the government and HSBC/Markit showed readings of 50.6 and 50.5, respectively, both above the key 50 mark that separates contraction from expansion.

It's the first time in more than a year that both are above that line.

As Carolynne Wheeler reports from Beijing today, the fresh readings suggest that China's fortunes continue to pick up despite the global uncertainty and troubles in Europe.

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And it's the government that is largely driving the recovery.

"The recovery is unbalanced, with smaller firms reporting that conditions are the weakest in six months," said Mark Williams and Qinwei Wang of Capital Economics in London.

"Over all, the broad picture from November's PMIs is encouraging," they added in a research note today.

"But it is a concern that the small and medium-sized firms that account for two-thirds of industrial output and a larger share of the economy are not participating in the recovery."

Europe suffers
Europe's manufacturing sector, in turn, continues to contract, though the latest readings today suggest it's not as bad.

The Markit PMI for the euro zone climbed in November to 46.2 from 45.4 a month earlier, though it has been below 50 for well over a year. Britain's reading was better than markets expected, but it's still continuing to contract, as well. Both measures come in advance of policy announcements later this week by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

"Despite some improvement in the U.K. measure, Monday's survey results continue to suggest that underlying growth in the U.K. and euro zone remains weak which could put pressure on the ECB and BoE to pull the trigger on further easing when the respective committees meet later this week," said Carl Campus of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

Separately, Greece unveiled a plan worth some €10-billion, $13-billion (U.S.), to buy back bonds, a move tied to its bailout money

The prices are said to be better than expected, and holders have until Friday to sign on.

This comes amid another meeting of euro zone finance ministers.

Just sayin'
Tony Clement, the chief of Canada's Treasury Board, had this to say on Twitter last night while watching TV: "The Walking Dead is seriously intense tonight." (You should hear what the Liberals say about him.)

The Vatican said today that Pope Benedict XVI will begin tweeting on Dec. 12, using the Twitter handle @Pontifex. Pontifex has more than one meaning, one of which is "bridge builder." It's also a game for $20 from Chronic Logic where you design and test bridges.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More

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