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Exteriors of the Telus Tower located at 25 York At. in downtown Toronto, photographed January 24 2011. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Exteriors of the Telus Tower located at 25 York At. in downtown Toronto, photographed January 24 2011. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

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"Today I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority,” the president said at a stop at the hub of Cushing, Oklahoma.

The U.S. nixed TransCanada's original plan for the pipeline, forcing the company to re-apply and skirt an environmentally sensitive region in Nebraska. While TransCanada still plans that project, which would run from Canada to the U.S. Gulf coast, it has since said it will first build a southern portion in the U.S. alone.

As The Globe and Mail's Shawn McCarthy reports, the president is on a swing through the midwest to fight back against Republican attacks on his energy policy amid high pump prices.

Markets sink Weak economic readings from China are again driving global markets lower, pushed along by similarly soft data from the euro zone.

Investors have been fretting over China, in particular, and today's manufacturing numbers only added to the angst. A private-sector purchasing managers index, or PMI, dipped to 48.1 this month, down from 49.6 in February and still below the key 50 level that separates contraction from expansion.

Europe's manufacturing numbers were also soft.

"Risk is being taken off the table this Thursday morning, inspired by a bout of bad economic news," said senior economist Jennifer Lee of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

"It started in the Asian session, with fresh worries about China’s economic growth stoked after the private sector’s measure of manufacturing showed another contraction this month," she said in a report. "... This points to further stimulative policy efforts coming from the [People's Bank of China]"

Lululemon profit climbs Lululemon Athletica Inc. posted gains across the board in its fourth quarter, and reached a milestone for the year in revenue.

The yogawear retailer said today it earned $73.5-million (U.S.) or 51 cents a share, diluted, in the quarter, compared to $54.8-million or 38 cents a year earlier. Revenue surged more than 50 per cent to $371.5-million, and same-store sales, a key measure for retailers, climbed 26 per cent.

Lululemon also boasted that its sales hit the $1-billion mark for the year.

As always with this company, it went somewhat beyond the traditional corporate report.

"Reaching a billion dollars in revenue is clearly an important milestone that as a company we can all be very proud of," said chief executive officer Christine Day. "But far more important than the number itself are the beliefs, values, culture and people that achieved it. We really are so much more than our numbers; it is the everyday actions of our dedicated team that translates into an unparalleled guest experience and allows us to achieve our ultimate goal of elevating the world."

As The Globe and Mail's Marina Strauss reports, Lululemon also warned that its profit margins will be pinched this year as it focuses on its strength of developing new fabrics and technical offerings to give its merchandise an edge.

Lululemon projected revenue of between $265-million and $270-million and earnings per share of 28 cents to 29 cents for the first quarter of this year. For all of 2012, it expects revenue of about $1.3-billion and earnings per share of $1.50 to $1.57.

Retail sales disappointing Canadians are putting more money into their cars, but just about holding the line otherwise.

Retail sales in Canada increased 0.5 per cent in January, Statistics Canada said today. But that was driven by a 4.6-per cent jump in sales of new cars, the best gain in three years, along with a 2.8-per-cent jump in used cars and a 1.8-per-cent rise in parts and accessories.

If you remove autos from the measure, retail sales actually slipped by 0.5 per cent. Just five of the 11 industries measured posted increases in January, though they accounted for more than half of total sales.

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