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Why 2014 could be 'Canada’s year to shine' on markets

These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, May 1, 2014.

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Canada's year?
As Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce sees it, this is Canada's year to "shine" where stocks are concerned.

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"The investment themes we set out for 2014 were centred on a call that after trailing in 2013, Canadian equities would outperform those in the U.S., and that investors should be weighted towards sector that would benefit from improving global growth," said Avery Shenfeld and Peter Buchanan of CIBC World Markets.

"On the first call, with a third of the year behind us, the TSX has opened a lead on the U.S. and other G7 markets," they added in a report released today.

"We're retaining our view that 2014 should be Canada's year to shine in a North American context, given its tighter correlation to global growth, which continues to pick up in the face of a diminished drag from fiscal restraint and a gradually healing financial system."

As they see it, global economic growth will speed up to almost 4 per cent in 2014-15, from about 3 per cent last year.

Where stocks are concerned Canada's "edge" over the United States is largely because of sector weightings that did well for America last year, but are "being turned on their head" so far this year.

"The S&P's larger tech sector accounted for some 40 per cent of the U.S. outperformance in 2013, but concerns over bloated valuations, particularly for social media stocks, could help the TSX win this year's race," said Mr. Shenfeld and Mr. Buchanan.

"Social media plays are absent from the TSX composite, and the tech sector, once about 40 per cent of Toronto's index during Nortel's hey days, now represents a scant 2-per-cent weighting today. Our call to lean towards global cyclicals has thus far paid off, with the TSX's energy sector being the best [year-to-date] performer here."

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Not only that, commodity prices appear to be paying off for producers based in Canada.

Normally, the economists said, a pick-up in resources moves the Canadian dollar up, thus keeping some benefits of stronger commodities in check.

But at this point, the currency remains depressed after its year-long tumble.

"Historically, a number of sectors, including those outside materials and energy, have outperformed their U.S. counterparts in the wake of C$ softness," said the CIBC researchers.

"That includes a number of industrial sectors, which could also benefit from the last decades' competitive-enhancing shakeout in Canada's factory sector."

The 2 per cent … and smokers
The province of Ontario decided today to target the 2 per cent, and smokers, while funding billions in transit in the Toronto area, unveiling its own pension plan, and creating a jobs fund.

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Tax hikes for high-income earners will affect those bringing in more than $220,000 a year, and, to a lesser extent, those topping $150,000.

Smokers will pay more, but that was already known.

Canada's most populous province will miss its previous deficit target, with a shortfall of $12.5-billion, but the Liberal government says it still plans to balance its books by 2017-18.

Ford taps Fields
Ford Motor Co., the only Detroit auto maker to escape bankruptcy protection during the crisis, has tapped its chief operating officer as the new head of the company.

Chief executive officer Alan Mulally will retire July 1, the company said, and will be replaced by Mark Fields.

Fields, 53, came to Ford from Boeing Co. in 2006. Mulally, 68, has been at the helm of the company for almost eight years.

"Alan and I feel strongly that Mark and the entire leadership team are absolutely ready to lead Ford forward, and now is the time to begin the transition," said Bill Ford, executive chairman of the auto maker.

Manulife jumps
Manulife Financial Corp.'s profit climbed in the first quarter, propelled by stronger performance in the company's insurance businesses in Asia, The Globe and Mail's Jacqueline Nelson reports.

Manulife profit reached $818-million or 42 cents a share, in the quarter, up from $540-million or 28 cents in the same time last year.

"We have increased our momentum in life insurance sales in Asia and Canada," chief executive officer Donald Guloien said.

"While insurance sales in the U.S. were below expectations in the first quarter, we recently introduced product enhancements and more competitive pricing which we expect to improve sales."

Bombardier profit dips
Bombardier Inc. posted flat revenue and a dip in first-quarter profit, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte writes.

Profit slipped to $115-million (U.S.) or 6 cents a share, compared with $148-million or 8 cents a year earlier.

Revenue came in at $4.4-billion, compared with $4.3-billion in the same period last year.

Bombardier Aerospace delivered 56 aircraft in the quarter, up from 53 a year earlier.

"We're satisfied with our first-quarter results and we're on track to meet our full-year guidance for 2014," said chief executive officer Pierre Beaudoin.

(Editor's note: This item has been changed from an earlier version to correct the number of aircraft sold.)

Imperial profit jumps
Imperial Oil Ltd.'s $12.9-billion Kearl oil sands project operated well under capacity in the first quarter, though output from the new mining development still contributed to a 19-per-cent jump in profit, The Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Jones reports.

Kearl, which started up a year ago, averaged 70,000 barrels of bitumen a day in the period, 40,0000 barrels below capacity. Imperial said it was making progress toward keeping output at maximum rates.

Meanwhile, Kearl's expansion aimed at doubling capacity is 81 per cent completed and is head of its schedule, which foresees producing by late 2015, it said. Imperial owns the northeastern Alberta development in partnership with Exxon Mobil Corp.

In the recent quarter, Imperial earned $946-million or $1.11 a share, up from year-earlier $798-million or 94 cents. Revenue rose 15 per cent to $9.2-billion.

The tether
It appears that the more you earn, the more likely you are to be tied to office e-mail.

That finding by Gallup may not be surprising, but it is telling in that it highlights just how tethered we've become. Particularly, presumably, managers who earn those higher salaries.

The Gallup study – it's a survey of Americans, but I've no doubt it holds true for Canadians – shows that the frequency of checking work-related e-mail beyond normal hours rises with annual income.

"The ubiquity of Web-enabled technology in U.S. workers' homes and lives could be a factor in their willingness to connect with employers outside of working hours," Gallup says of the survey conducted between late March and early April.

"Gallup estimates 80 per cent of full-time U.S. workers have a smartphone with Internet access," it adds.

"Eighty-seven per cent have a laptop or desktop computer, and 49 per cent have a tablet computer. In all, 96 per cent of full-time American employees say they use at least one of these types of devices."

Here's what Gallup found:

  1. In the $24,000-$36,000 earning bracket, 25 per cent of those polled said they frequently check work-related e-mail outside of normal office hours.
  2. $36,000 to $48,000, 30 per cent.
  3. $48,000 to $60,000, 31 per cent.
  4. $60,000 to $90,000, 38 per cent.
  5. $90,000 to $120,000, 43 per cent.
  6. $120,000 and up, 53 per cent.

(If you're not at work right now, and you're reading this on your mobile device, I hope you're in at least that 43-per-cent group.)

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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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