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These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

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Loonie sinks. Again
A "heady cocktail of worries" rippled through financial markets today, driving stocks down and the U.S. dollar higher, in turn slamming the loonie and other currencies.

That cocktail included everything from fresh concerns over a pending rate hike in the United States to the latest troubles in Greece to price concerns in China.

The Canadian dollar hovered around the 79-cent mark today as these issues pushed the U.S. greenback ever higher.

It all has to do with the strength of the U.S. economy and the vulnerabilities of just about everyone else, said chief currency strategist Camilla Sutton of Bank of Nova Scotia.

The loonie has touched a high point of 79.37 cents (U.S.) and a low of 78.85 cents today, edging closer to its most recent low of 78.22 cents and, arguably, to the 75-cent level that Ms. Sutton and others expect later this year.

By late afternoon, it stood at 78.87 cents.

The U.S. dollar, in turn, is on a roll, spurred on by stronger economic readings that suggest the Federal Reserve will launch its first interest rate hike soon, possibly in June.

Feeding into that were the uncertainties of Europe, specifically the fears over whether Greece could default on its hefty debts or even leave the euro zone.

"The latest deal between Greece and the rest of the euro zone always looked shaky, but recent events seems to indicate that the wheels are coming off even quicker than many had anticipated," said senior market analyst Chris Beauchamp of IG in London.

The latest worries were sparked by comments from Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was featured in a documentary film saying that Europe's leaders knew long ago that the country couldn't pay its debts and describing his nation as "the most bankrupt of any state."

Officials of the monetary union, in turn, slammed Athens for wasting time for the past two weeks.

"At this rate one must take serious the threat that Greece runs out of cash by the end of the month," said observers at Société Générale.

Then there's the fresh angst over the pending rate hike by the U.S. central bank, which is hardly new but reared its ugly head again today amid comments from Fed policy makers.

"Speculation over an impending U.S. rate hike is back again with a vengeance on Tuesday morning with the dollar making multiyear highs versus the euro and Japanese yen," said analyst Jasper Lawler of CMC Markets.

And, finally, there were Canada's own troubles, which were highlighted yesterday as the International Monetary Fund warned yet again of the threat from inflated house prices and swollen consumer debt levels.

The euro was also whacked, getting closer to parity with the U.S. dollar, and bond yields are sinking.

Playing out in the markets was "a heady cocktail of worries that has sent investors scurrying for safe havens," Mr. Beauchamp said of how things went in London.

"Consumer prices in China might be holding up, but the decline in producer prices sent shockwaves through the mining sector in London," he added.

Markets sour
This all fed into equity markets, as well.

Tokyo's Nikkei shed 0.7 per cent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 0.9 per cent.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent.

The S&P 500 fell 1.7 per cent, the Dow Jones industrial average 1.8 per cent, the Nasdaq 1.6 per cent and the S&P/TSX composite index 1.4 per cent.

Credit Suisse names new CEO
Credit Suisse has upset its top office, replacing chief executive officer Brady Dougan with Tidjane Thiam.

The move sparked a rally in the Swiss bank's stock.

Mr. Dougan was chief for eight years, while Mr. Thiam is being poached from insurer Prudential PLC.

"His extensive international experience, including in wealth and asset management and in the successful development of new markets, provides a firm foundation for leading Credit Suisse," chairman Urs Rohner said of Mr. Thiam.

Up and at 'em
I was ashamed yesterday to tell anyone that I don't want a watch that tells me when to get off the couch and go for a walk.

But then today, an important European analyst said the exact same thing.

And both of us, it seems, could actually do with the get-off-your-butt feature of the new Apple Watch.

"Apple Watch fans will point to the new health apps that are likely to be made available as a result of this launch, but a lot of these apps are already available on the iPhone as well, and while Apple aficionados will probably lap up the new Watch, a lot more people are likely to be more difficult to please," chief analyst Michael Hewson of CMC Markets in London said in a research note today.

"Furthermore, the idea of a watch reminding me to get up and walk around doesn't really appeal that much either, even though as I write this I could probably do with going for a walk around."

As The Globe and Mail's Shane Dingman reports, the watch actually does a lot more than that.

It's a whole bunch of things, Apple says, including an "incredibly accurate timepiece."

Shareholders seemed more impressed, at least at first, with Apple's new MacBook offering yesterday, as the shares rose and then dipped when the watch was unveiled.

While the presentation was slick and smooth and the watch was undoubtedly impressive, it still feels very niche," said Mr. Hewson.

"The fact that you also need an iPhone for it to work is a negative, particularly with  a starting price point of $349, and with 18 hours of battery life its yet another device that needs charging regularly."

(And besides, the CIA would only try to hack it, anyway.)

Citigroup analyst Jim Suva, for one, boosted his outlook for Apple stock after yesterday's presentation, which also boasted the hundreds of millions of iPhones sold.

Mr. Suva hiked his price target on the shares to $145 (U.S.) from $135, putting the company's value that much closer to the $1-trillion mark.

"Citi estimates 3 million units sold in the June quarter and 17 million units in the first four quarters or a run rate of 20 million units per full year," Mr. Suva said.

Strategy Analytics forecast last week that 15 million Apple watches will ship this year, immediately becoming No. 1 and grabbing a market share of 55 per cent.

"The Apple Watch is the catalyst to ignite the global smartwatch market," said Neil Mawston, the group's executive director.

"Apple's famous brand, loyal fan base, deep retail present and extensive apps ecosystem will ensure healthy uptake for its Watch."

The watch will, of course, appeal to many and be shunned by some, CMC's Mr. Hewson among them.

"Don't get me wrong, like a lot of people I'm a big Apple fan, but I already have a wrist watch, as well as a BlackBerry, and an iPad, all of which I use every day, and the last thing I need is an extra device that runs out of charge at an inopportune moment," he said.

"In short, Apple has a lot of convincing to do to get this fan on board with the idea of a watch and an iPhone. If, on the other hand Apple were to combine the two into one device that might well be a game changer, but for now that seems some way off."

For the record, it took me about 20 minutes to write this, sitting down all the while.


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