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Midday Business Briefing

Cossette fight may be over, Madoff belongings to be sold Add to ...

Stories Report on Business is following today :

Fight for Cossette may be over

Cossette Inc. has set a high bar for competing takeover bids. The advertising agency announced this morning it had agreed to be acquired by a U.S. investment firm, Mill Road Capital, for $7.87 a share, well above a hostile bid of $4.95 a share from a group of former Cossette executives put forward in the summer. That group, formed as Cosmos Capital, doesn't have deep-pocketed backing, from a group such as another advertising company, signalling the fight for the company may be over. Read Streetwise by Andrew Willis

U.S. unemployment to remain high

The U.S. economy may be finally growing again, but jobs will be slow in coming back, Federal Reserve officials say. Presidents of regional Federal Reserve banks in San Francisco and Atlanta say the rebound simply won't be sharp enough to make a significant dent in unemployment yet. The U.S. jobless rate now stands at 10.2 per cent and millions of Americans are without work. "With such a slow rebound, unemployment could well stay high for several years to come," Janet Yellen of the San Francisco Fed said in a speech today. "In other words, our recovery is likely to feel like something well short of good times." Read the story

Better signs from Britain's banks

Britain's two biggest banks may be signalling a key moment as the financial crisis abates. Results from the banks indicate that bad debts, which have slammed the global banking sector, may have peaked. HSBC Holdings PLC, the biggest bank in Europe, noted the first decline in bad U.S. consumer loans in three years. Barclays PLC posted a hefty profit and said it would resume paying dividends. HSBC and Barclays are not necessarily indicative of the entire sector in Britain - Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and Lloyds Banking Group PLC suffered mightily during the crisis - but they do follow a global trend of better times in the industry. "The biggest jolt has now passed through the global economy," said HSBC chief Michael Geoghegan. Read the story

Japan frets over potential downgrade

Japan's new government is scrambling to deal with a stunning increase in the country's debt. Fitch Ratings today warned Japan it's at risk of a ratings downgrade if it cannot stick to its targets. The International Monetary Fund, for example, projects Japan's debt will hit almost 230 per cent of gross domestic product by 2010 for the worst showing among the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Also this morning, fresh data showed Japan's trade surplus narrowed in September as imports rose 5.9 per cent and exports 2.5 per cent as global trade gathers steam again. Read the story

Rona cites first signs of recovery

Canada's biggest home renovation retailer says it has seen the first signs of recovery in the industry. Rona Inc. said today its third-quarter profit fell to $49.1-million or 38 cents a share from $52.5-million or 45 cents as revenue dipped about 4 per cent to $1.3-billion. The company cited a drop in home construction, sagging consumer confidence and poor weather. Still, said chief executive Robert Dutton, "as anticipated, we glimpsed the first signs of recovery in our industry during the third quarter … The business environment is increasingly favourable to real estate activity over all. Very low mortgage rates and the popularity of the renovation tax credits should continue to stimulate renovation activity across the country."

There's no business like show business, even in a recession

Canadians love a night out at the movies, particularly when times are tough. Yet again this morning, Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund posted strong third-quarter results, helped along by the likes of some dinosaurs and some basterds. And popcorn, of course. Cineplex profit jumped to $20.4-million in the third quarter from $18.4-million a year earlier and revenue rose to $257.5-million from $239.1-million. Box office revenue was its highest ever. Among its top movies in the quarter were Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince , Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs , District 9 and Inglourious Basterds . Read the story

Airlines cite better travel demand

Two more air carriers - Singapore Airlines and Korean Air - are citing a pickup in travel demand. The world's airlines have been hit by everything from fuel prices to the recession to fears over the H1N1 flu. Last week, Air Canada and British Airways PLC signalled the industry may be reaching bottom. Today, Korean Air posted its second consecutive quarterly profit, and projected even better times next year. Singapore Airlines posted a narrower loss, and said demand is rebounding, though gradually.

Why break-ins are down in some U.S. cities

If there can be any silver lining in America's jobs crisis, it's this: With more people at home, break-ins are on the decline in some areas. The Associated Press reports that in Minneapolis, for example, burglaries were down more than 15 per cent in the first nine months of the year. In Boston, there have been 335 fewer break-ins. And in Aurora, just outside Chicago, home burglaries fell more than 15 per cent. That's not to suggest break-ins are down across the country. They are in fact rising in some cities. But it's worth noting that in Chicago, the rate of increase is slowing. And in some cities that were already reporting a decline, the drop is speeding up. "With a lot more unemployed people, a lot more people are staying home, and they see more in their neighbourhood," Sgt. Thomas Lasater of the St. Louis County, Mo., police department told the news agency. Some police also cite the decline in prices of metals like copper, which crooks had been stealing from vacant homes.

Madoff's lifestyle: Watches, furs, personalized jacket

The U.S. government is auctioning many of the personal belongings of Bernard and Ruth Madoff, including jewelry, furs and about 40 watches. The U.S. Marshals Services will auction about 200 items on the weekend, an attempt to raise at least $500,000 (U.S.) for Mr. Madoff's victims, the Wall Street Journal reports. Among the items cited by the newspaper: A blue satin Mets jacket with "Madoff" stitched on the back, three boogie boards, his-and-hers stationery, Rolexes, Audemars and Piguets, five fur coats, Tiffany placecard holders and three monogrammed polo shirts. The government is also auctioning Mr. Madoff's homes and boats separately.

Alan Greenspan: From 'exuberance' to 're-liquefying'

The former central banker who coined the phrase "irrational exuberance" has a new one for the markets: "re-liquefying." In Edmonton yesterday, Alan Greenspan told a business audience that the rebound in stock prices is "re-liquefying" America's economy, Bloomberg News reports. The former Federal Reserve chairman, from 1987 until early 2006, also said there are signs that the housing market crash may be bottoming. "It may be too soon, but all the relevant price indexes are turning," he said. "Now whether or not that is temporary is very difficult to tell, because we have never been through anything like this."

From today's Report on Business

U.S. dollar sags on global financial leaders' omission

Canadian Tire lays shopper Bob to rest

Will Bay Street bonuses get the boot?

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