These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, July 13. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.
House prices to drop Toronto-Dominion Bank economists expect existing home sales to sink 15.2 per cent, and average prices 10.2 per cent, over the next two years, in what they see as a "moderate correction" in Canada's real estate industry. Those projections compare to the first quarter of this year.
Vancouver and Toronto will see "a more significant cool down," though Calgary and Edmonton will outperform, Derek Burleton and Sonya Gulati said in a report today.
"A combination of more subdued job and household income growth, rising interest rates, the recent tightening in borrowing rules for insured mortgages and fewer first-time home buyers are expected to be the chief culprits behind the slowdown," they said.
"With most of these drivers expected to remain supportive to housing demand in the very near term, we anticipate that the brunt of this adjustment will take place in 2012 and into 2013."
But the national picture, they added, masks the regional differences in the 12 major centres they studied.
"Vancouver and Toronto look poised for larger-than-average declines over the next few years, reflecting in part their exposure to the condominium segment, which appears particularly ripe for a correction," the TD economists said.
"At the other end of the spectrum, prospects are considerably better for housing markets in Calgary, Edmonton and Regina. Still, no market is likely to experience a housing boom over the medium term."
Murdoch drops BSkyB bid Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. empire has been under attack in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, has pulled his bid to take control of British Sky Broadcasting.
The bid for the 61-per-cent he doesn't already own was in jeopardy regardless, set back by several months as the proposal was sent to Britain's competition watchdog for review.
Bernanke stands ready to move Ben Bernanke appears to have buoyed some hopes that there could yet be a QE3.
Mr. Bernanke told the House today that the Federal Reserve is prepared for more stimulus if needed, sending a signal to some market players that the U.S. central bank could bring in another round of quantitative easing. The last round, dubbed QE2, just ended.
"The possibility remains that the recent economic weakness may prove more persistent than expected and that deflationary risks might re-emerge, implying a need for additional policy support," Mr. Bernanke said.
His talk reflected the "large amount of uncertainty" in the economic climate at this stage, said senior economist James Marple of Toronto-Dominion Bank.
"With risks from Europe and ambiguity over the political landscape in Washington, the Fed is just as unsure as anyone else is," Mr. Marple said. "While they expect economic growth to improve, they are not willing to bet the farm on it and are prepared to do what is necessary if conditions deviate from expectations."
OPTI in court protection OPTI Canada Inc. , the small oil sands company that proposed revolutionizing the business with Israeli technology, has filed for court protection as the firm works to fix its balance sheet, The Globe and Mail's David Ebner writes.
OPTI said it has reached deals with key bondholders to exchange two series of senior secured notes due in 2014 for new common stock in the company, which will inject a planned $375-million of equity to give life to the hobbled firm.
China growth dips That huge sigh of relief you may have heard in the markets this morning was all about China.
China has been a source of concern as its growth has helped fuel the global rebound, and many have feared a slowdown as Beijing fights huge inflationary pressures, forcing the People's Bank of China to move forcefully.
But official numbers today showed only slightly slower growth in the second quarter, with expansion at an annualized pace of 9.5 per cent. That's down from 9.7 per cent in the first quarter and 9.8 per cent in the final quarter of last year, but still enough to calm nerves.
Consider, for example, that Burberry, the luxury goods maker, today posted a huge jump in sales for the first quarter, largely on gains in the Asia Pacific Pacific region, and particularly China. While a luxury company like Burberry may not be the best example of why China is so important to the global rebound, it does show how firms are counting on the region.
"Over all, today's data should dampen fears that the economy is heading into a hard landing and they suggest that policy makers can afford to stay focused on tackling inflation for a while longer," said Mark Williams, senior China economist at Capital Economics in London. "... Signs of resilience in China are positive for commodity producers and others supplying Chinese industry."
He did note, though, that consumer spending as a share of GDP is falling, which means China's growth is occurring "partly at the expense of growth in the rest of the world" as its own trade surplus rebounds.
Deal struck for U.S. medical firm A group that includes Apax Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board has struck a deal to buy Kinetic Concepts Inc. , a U.S. medical device company, The Globe and Mail's Tara Perkins reports today.
The consortium has agreed to pay $68.50 a share, valuing the deal at $6.3-billion including debt.
Kinetics, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, makes products and therapies to treat wounds and regenerate tissue. It reported revenues of $2-billion last year.
OpenText grabs Global 360 A couple of other takeover deals worth noting today: Canada's OpenText , that other Waterloo, Ont., company, is swallowing Global 360 Holding Corp. of Dallas for about $260-million (U.S.).
"This increased investment in the [business process management]market demonstrates OpenText's focus on strategic acquisitions of technologies that build out its extended portfolio of solutions," the company said.
And in the mining sector, Northgate Minerals Corp. is acquiring Primero Mining Corp. in an all-stock deal they said will create a combined company with a market capitalization of about $1.2-billion (Canadian).
RIM in the spotlight I have more faith in Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie than just about anyone, not as a shareholder of Research In Motion Ltd. but as a cheerleader for the team that gave the world the smart phone and wireless e-mail, and now boasts 68 million subscribers.
And I do believe that RIM can bounce back. But Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Balsillie need to move fast as the BlackBerry maker loses ground to the likes of Apple Inc. , producer of the iPhone, and Google Inc. , whose Android system has become very hot.
As The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad and Julien Russell Brunet report, the co-CEOs of Canada's great tech company stuck to the line they've given for months at last night's annual meeting in Waterloo, Ont., where they faced shareholder questions about the lagging performance. Much better times are ahead, new product launches are in the works, etc.
From their point, they have seven new smart phones in the pipe, with their new operating system. Among them is the new Bold - I'm addicted to mine, by the way - which was delayed to make it better amid what Mr. Lazaridis describes as the "arms race" in the industry.
He's right, it is an arms race. And that's why the folks at RIM need to move as quickly as possible. Months are costly.
Behind the euro crisis To understand at least part of Europe's crisis, take a look at today's report from the European Commission. It urges "reinforcement" of Greece's fiscal restructuring program and vigorous pursuit of "fiscal and broader structural reforms" in Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
How's that working so far?
As many observers have noted, what the 17-nation euro zone lacks most is leadership and unity. More than a year into the crisis, there's still no solution. And, as correspondent Eric Reguly writes today, political turmoil is exacerbating the already extreme financial troubles.
What would Q think? Britain's famed British intelligence service is losing tech nerds to the private sector as companies like Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. lure them with better pay and perqs, Reuters reports today.
This troubling development was noted today in an annual report released by the Intelligence and Security Committee, Members of Parliament with responsibility for the country's spooks. The report noted that the Government Communications Headquarters, which according to Reuters is the group responsible for eavesdropping and such, is losing qualified staff proficient in the ways of the Internet.
"The Director has noted that retaining sufficient numbers of suitably-qualified internet specialists also remains a difficulty, telling us: I need some real Internet whizzes in order to do cyber and I am not even sure they are even on the contractor market, so I need to work on that," according to the report.
"They will be working for Microsoft or Google or Amazon or whoever. And I can't compete with their salaries; I can offer them a fantastic mission, but I can't compete with their salaries. But I probably have to do better than I am doing at the moment, or else my Internet whizzes are not going to stay… and we do have a steady drip, I am afraid. Month‑on‑month, we are losing whizzes who'll basically say: 'I'm sorry, I am going to take three times the salary and the car and whatever else.'"
(But are Google and Microsoft offering staff Aston Martins with ejector seats?)
In International Business today Buried for more than six months by squabbling euro zone policy makers, the idea of a single euro government bond may need to be dug up as one of the few logical solutions to the bloc's worsening sovereign debt crisis. Mike Dolan of Reuters examines the issue.
In Economy Lab today The census story is a train wreck in slow motion; the latest car to pile on the flaming ruins is the recent report that Statistics Canada has resigned itself to accepting incomplete responses to the National Household Survey, Stephen Gordon writes.
In Personal Finance today Rob Carrick rounds up the best in personal finance reading on the Web.
From today's Report on Business