These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014.
Follow Michael Babad and The Globe's Business Briefing on Twitter.
As the old saying goes, do not fold, spindle or mutilate your new iPhone 6 Plus.
And now, don't bend it, either.
I ran across a MarketWatch item today that rounds up the jokes being made about Apple Inc.'s "bendgate," with millions of viewers having seen a "bend test" video purportedly showing how the new, bigger iPhone bends. Which got me looking for more.
(First, I have to wonder why anyone would try to bend their smartphone. And for the record, I have no personal knowledge of whether the 6 Plus bends or not, or whether the video is reliable. But I sure love the jokes.)
Apple said just nine people have complained about bending, and, a spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal, "with normal use a bend in iPhone is extremely rare."
But the world is still having fun at Apple's expense.
And that goes well beyond the obvious, competitors like Samsung. So, from MarketWatch and me:
@SamsungMobile tweeted a picture of a Galaxy model with this line: "Curved. Not bent."
@Heineken_NL tweeted a picture of a bent bottle cap: "Dear Apple … No worries … It happens to us all the time."
@LGUSAMobile went with this, with a picture: "Our phone doesn't bend, it flexes … on purpose."
@Dockers had some fun with what you might call smartpants, showing off one of the pockets in its khakis and advising readers that they can "avoid #bendgate with our hidden security side pocket."
@Mecademic went with this: "Our robots too are made of #aluminum, but they don't bend."
@CherifYounis, or Chérif Younis, who bills himself as an indie game developer in Paris, did a brilliant parody illustration of an iPhone repair kit: a rolling pin.
@KITKAT – you know, the nice, light snack – tweeted a photo of a bar broken in two: "We don't bend, we #break."
Amnesty International, or @amnestynl, went with much more of a serious message, showing spreading jail bars: "Let's bend something that truly matters."
As did Oxfam, @oxfamgb: "Our lifesaving water kit is flexible in all the right places, so we'll never have a problem like #bendgate"
There many non-corporate types taking to Twitter, as well. Like @Girlzwantsz, or What A Girl Wants: "Real phones have curves"
(This came today as Apple also released a workaround to its iOS8 update.)
- Apple releases iOS 8 workaround to temporarily fix dropped cell service
- Apple customers discover unexpected flexibility in Phone 6 Plus
Could cancel project, Petronas warns
Malaysia's state-owned oil-and-gas giant Petronas is threatening to cancel a $10-billion (U.S.) liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia, The Financial Times reports today.
Petronas chief executive officer Shamsul Abbas told the news organization that he is "ready to call off" the Pacific NorthWest LNG project amid a delayed regulatory approval process, plans by the B.C. government to impose an LNG tax and a "lack of appropriate incentives."
The comments come as Canada's plans to become a major exporter of LNG – particularly to Asia – face intensifying global competition.
There are more than a dozen ventures envisaged for B.C., far too many given the rapid expansion of exports from the shale-gas rich United States, Australia and elsewhere, experts say.
"The way things are developing the project remains uncertain and I doubt we will be able to make a positive [final investment decision] by year-end," Mr. Abbas is quoted as saying in the FT article.
B.C's natural-gas development minister, Rich Coleman, told reporters, however, that discussions are still ongoing and he downplayed the report.
And, as The Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Jones reports, this came as Norway's Statoil ASA shelved a multibillion-dollar oil sands project, citing higher costs and delays for new export pipelines.
- Bertrand Marotte: Petronas threatens to 'call off' $10-billion B.C. LNG project: report
- Jeffrey Jones: Statoil halts multibillion-dollar Alberta project
Of loonies and kiwis
The Canadian dollar fell back to around the 90-cent level today, tumbling amid a "big, broad U.S.-dollar rally."
The loonie, as the dollar coin is known, opened at 90.44 cents U.S., and tumbled below the 90-cent mark at one point.
"We're having a big, broad U.S.-dollar rally," said chief currency strategist Camilla Sutton of Bank of Nova Scotia.
This is tied to the "dual impact" of market concerns over global economic growth and the prospect of an interest rate hike, though still a ways off, by the Federal Reserve, Ms. Sutton said.
So commodity-linked currencies are hurting today, she said, adding she expects the loonie to dip further still in the near term.
"We're in this moment of broad U.S.-dollar strength," Ms. Sutton said in an interview. "I wouldn't fight it."
The euro also tumbled. And North American stocks sank.
"The USD is strong, having rallied against all primary currencies over the last three months," Ms. Sutton said later in a research note, referring to the U.S. dollar by its symbol.
"The move comes on fundamental divergence: The U.S. economy is poised to outperform and the Fed is on the cusp of entering an interest rate hiking cycle at the same time the European economy has weakened further and other global economic outlooks are moderating."
Also playing into the markets today were comments by New Zealand's central bank chief, Graeme Wheeler, who said the higher level of his country's dollar was "unjustified and unsustainable."
"The bank's analysis indicates that the real exchange rate is well above its sustainable level, and also above levels justified by short-term business cycle factors," the governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said in a statement.
That sent the kiwi, as New Zealand's currency is dubbed, down.
"This morning, the dollar gets another boost from the Antipodean currencies after RBNZ Governor Wheeler labelled the NZD's level as 'unjustified,' which could imply that the RBNZ was preparing to intervene," said currency strategists at Société Générale.
"We are not sure if there is any point in the RBNZ intervening now that the currency has been depreciating sharply … Nonetheless, the verbal jawboning helps to maintain the NZD's downward trend."
- Follow our Inside the Market blog (for subscribers)
- Konrad Yakabuski: Is Poloz making the loonie fly low
- Kevin Carmichael in ROB Insight (for subscribers): Trying to connect the dots on Fed policy? Forget it
- David Parkinson: Bank of Canada pegs 'neutral' interest rate below historical norm
Germany warns on trade deal
Germany's economy minister is warning that his country won't agree to a Canada-EU trade deal unless a controversial clause is killed.
"It is completely clear that we reject these investment protection agreements," Sigmar Gabriel said today during a parliamentary debate, Reuters reports.
The clause in question would give companies the right to take legal action against Canada or members of the European Union, which some observers believe is too strong of a corporate tool.
"I am certain that the debate is not over by a long shot," Mr. Gabriel said of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA.
Streetwise (for subscribers)
ROB Insight (for subscribers)