These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, March 10, 2015.
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," Mr. Hewson said.
"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 three 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.
- Shane Dingman: Key takeaways from the Apple Watch event
- Video: Why Apple's new watch is nothing but a show-pony
- Apple CEO Cook unveils smartwatch features, new MacBook
- CIA tried to hack Apple devices for nearly a decade, Snowden documents allege
Loonie sinks. Again
The Canadian dollar is hovering around the 79-cent mark today as everything from Greece to the Fed ripples through currency markets, driving the U.S. greenback 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.
So far today, the loonie has touched a high point of 79.37 cents (U.S.) and a low of 78.85 cents, 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.
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 are the uncertainties of Europe, specifically the fears over whether Greece could default on its hefty debts or even leave the euro zone.
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."
"Athens is dragging its heels over reforms and patience is running low in Brussels," said market analyst David Madden of IG in London.
"The Greek government is pushing the envelope with its creditors and the market is scared by the prospect of another long drawn-out debt negotiation," he added.
"The [European Central Bank's] government bond-buying scheme is being overshadowed by Greece, and if Athens keeps pushing its creditors around it may receive a rap on the knuckles."
This came after officials of the monetary union 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.
"Reports of an in/out euro referendum or early election to blackmail the EU into paying up is a sign of Athens' desperation, but not a tactic that will go down particularly well with the eurogroup," they added, referring to the group of finance officials in the monetary union.
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 are 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 is also being whacked, getting closer to parity with the U.S. dollar, and bond yields are sinking.
- Tamsin McMahon: IMF sounds fresh alarm over Canadian housing market
- Varoufakis unsettles Germans with admission Greece won't repay debts
- Why so much money is shorting the Canadian dollar
- Canadian dollar sinks fast, swings wildly
- Marina Strauss: Retailers expect to raise prices, feeling pinch of weak loonie
This is all feeding 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 0.5 per cent and 2 per cent as North American markets were opening.
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.
- Not lovin' it so much: McDonald's needs 'urgent' change'
- Why Apple's new watch is nothing but a show-pony
- The case for reverse mortgages
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