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Briefing highlights

  • The GTA’s  east-west divide
  • A Doug Ford scene I’d love to see
  • Barrick eyes bid for Newmont
  • SNC cuts dividend, posts loss
  • Stocks, loonie, oil at a glance
  • RBC raises dividend as profit rises
  • Magna raises quarterly dividend
  • Saputo to buy U.K. firm for $1.7-billion
  • Kraft Heinz shares tumble
  • From today’s Globe and Mail

East vs. west

There’s a striking divide in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) housing market as buyers flock to western municipalities.

Halton Region, in particular, has been drawing buyers, an analysis by Re/Max of Ontario-Atlantic Canada shows, with the central and western districts of the core also gaining “at the expense of some perennial favourites” such as East Toronto.

There’s an obvious price impact here. In Halton’s Burlington, for example, average prices surged 50 per cent, to $769,000, as home sales almost doubled between 2013 and 2018.

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“As Toronto’s housing affordability eroded, the west gained market share thanks to lower prices, better transit connections to the downtown core, and more new residential construction coming on stream,” said Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director of the group.

Here’s the full picture:

Affordability is a big factor.

Prices in Toronto and other areas such as Vancouver became so out of reach, and so frothy, that provincial governments moved to cool them down, while the federal government’s bank regulator established mortgage-qualification stress tests early last year.

“Growing demand for affordable housing buoyed new construction and contributed to rising market share in Halton Region over the five-year period,” Mr. Alexander said in releasing the numbers.

“Product was coming on stream at a time when the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) reported its lowest inventory in years and skyrocketing housing values were raising red flags,” he added.

Which is one of the reasons the Hamilton market surged.

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Young and old alike are playing into this, Re/Max said, as baby boomers downsized or made “lateral moves” and younger folks went for lower prices.

Over the last decade, Mr. Alexander added later, the western districts have been “the focus of significant growth and development.” Durham Region, for example, “has not been viewed in this same regard.”

Empty nesters, retirees and younger buyers have, for example, been drawn to Simcoe County, where prices range from about $529,000 to $746,000.

The regions that have seen a decline can still take heart, Re/Max said, projecting sales will rise with stronger demand in east Toronto and York, Peel and Durham regions.

“These areas still carry significant weight, despite the factors that have impacted softer performance in recent years, including affordability, lack of available housing and fewer transit options,” Re/Max said.

Even further west will also see gains, Mr. Alexander said later.

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“We expect continued demand and development in communities such as Brantford, Waterdown, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and even as far as London and Niagara,” Mr. Alexander said.

“What will really impact the growth of these markets, outside of availability and affordability, will be the further investment in transit systems as people seek easy access to Toronto’s core.

“However, with the recent boom in areas to the east such as Prince Edward County, and affordability levelling out between Toronto proper and its western suburbs, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

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A scene I’d love to see

Bobby thinks he has $2.8-million to pay a CEO. But he has to bring down electricity bills by 12 per cent. So how much does Bobby actually have for the CEO?

Photo illustration

babad

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Barrick eyes Newmont

Keep an eye on shares of Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp. today as the former mulls a takeover bid for the latter.

As The Globe and Mail’s Niall McGee and Rachelle Younglai report, Barrick is considering a two-part deal under which it would snap up Newmont for about US$19-billion in stock and then sell some of its assets to Newcrest Mining.

Barrick put out a short statement this morning confirming “that the company has reviewed the opportunity to merge with Newmont Mining Corp. in an all-share nil premium transaction,” but hasn’t yet made a decision.

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SNC cuts dividend, posts loss

SNC Lavalin Group Inc., the focus of a political controversy swirling in Ottawa, cut its dividend to a dime as it posted a fourth-quarter loss on a hefty charge.

The engineering giant lost $1.6-billion, or $9.11 a share, diluted, in the quarter, compared to a profit of $52.4 million or 30 cents a year earlier. That carried a charge of $1.2-billion.

The quarter capped “a disappointing year,” said chief executive officer Neil Bruce.

“Due to a deterioration of the oil and gas segment’s near-term prospects caused by various factors, including difficult intergovernmental relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia, unpredictable commodity prices and uncertain client investment plans, we were required to record a goodwill impairment in the quarter,” he said.

Markets at a glance

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RBC dividend, profit up

Royal Bank of Canada kicked off bank earnings season with a dividend increase and a jump in first-quarter profit.

RBC profit rose to $3.1-billion or $2.15 a share, diluted, from a year earlier, while return on equity dipped to 16.7 per cent.

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The bank raised its quarterly dividend by 4 cents to $1.02.

“Results reflect solid underlying earnings growth in personal and commercial banking and insurance,” RBC said.

“Challenging market conditions impacted several business segments in the first quarter of 2019 contributing to results being flat in wealth management and lower results in capital markets and investor and treasury services.”

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Magna raises dividend

Magna International Inc. raised its quarterly dividend as it posted a drop in profit but record fourth-quarter sales.

Profit attributable to Magna slipped in the quarter to US$465-million, or US$1.37 a share, diluted, from US$559-million or US$1.54 a year earlier. Sales topped US$10-billion.

The auto parts giant increased its quarterly dividend by 11 per cent US36.5 cents.

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