These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, May 19. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.
Bookie's odds on Carney By many accounts, France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the top contender to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as chief of the International Monetary Fund. She's already finding support among the Europeans, and is a highly regarded monetary official, though Asian countries also believe it may be their time to lead.
As The Globe and Mail's Kevin Carmichael reports today from Washington, Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who is charged in an alleged sexual assault and is in jail in New York, resigned. He has denied all allegations, and no charges have been proved in court.
If betting is any guide, Ms. Lagarde is also the leading contender for British book maker William Hill today.
Ms. Lagarde is given 6-to-4 odds on the book maker's web site. Others on the list include Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a former IMF director (5-to-1), Singapore's Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (8-to-1), Kemal Dervis, former Turkish finance minister (5-to-2), and Bundesbank chief Axel Weber (7-to-1). The longest shot is Bank of Mexico Governor Augstin Carstens, at 25-to-1.
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney is given 10-to-1 odds in betting that runs until tomorrow.
What that means is that if you wanted to bet on Mr. Carney, who adeptly guided Canada through the financial crisis and recession, $1 would bring you $10 plus the original bet of $1 if he's picked as the next chief.
But that's not likely to happen. A European has held this post, and, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today, the Europeans want to keep it.
"Naturally the developing countries have a claim on the highest position of the IMF or World Bank but the current situation speaks for a European candidate given the considerable problems of the euro," Ms. Merkel told reporters in Berlin, according to Bloomberg News.
Think about that for a minute. To date, the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank haven't been able to solve the continent's debt crisis, so maybe it's time for a Canadian to show them how to do it.
"Bank of Canada Governor Carney noted in a press conference earlier this week that the bank supports a merit-based approach to finding the next head of the IMF," said economists Derek Holt and Karen Woods of Scotia Capital.
"Interestingly, this comes at a time when Bank of Italy chairman Draghi is expected to take over from current ECB head Trichet - having been endorsed this week by the European finance ministers - when he finishes his term at the end of October."
- Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigns as IMF chief
- Europe says next IMF chief must come from EU
- Europe moves to protect claim to top IMF job
- Race to replace IMF head takes a wider path
- The next question: Who will replace IMF's Strauss-Kahn?
- Who will succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn?
IEA urges producers to act The International Energy Agency is pleading with energy producers to take action to head off a hit to the global recovery from high oil prices .
"Additional increases in prices at this stage of the economic cycle risk derailing the global economic recovery and are neither in the interest of producing nor of consuming countries," the Paris-based adviser said in a statement today after its board meeting.
"Oil importing developing countries are most likely to be seriously affected by high oil prices, undermining their economic and social well-being," it said in what was an unusual move for the group.
"In these circumstances, enhancing consumer-producer dialogue is urgently important to reach both short- and long-term solutions. The governing board urges action from producers that will help avoid the negative global economic consequences which a further sharp market tightening could cause, and welcomes commitments to increase supply."
The group said oil prices have declined by 10 per cent since May, but are still high, held aloft by market fundamentals, political uncertainty around the world, and simply future expectations.
"The IEA governing board expressed serious concern that there are growing signs that the rise in oil prices since September is affecting the economic recovery by widening global imbalances, reducing household and business income, and placing upward pressure on inflation and interest rates," it said.
"As global demand for oil increases seasonally from May to August, there is a clear, urgent need for additional supplies on a more competitive basis to be made available to refiners to prevent a further tightening of the market."
Japan's economy shrinks Japan has plunged back into recession after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in mid-March did more damage to what had already been a faltering economy.
The economy shrank by 0.9 per cent in the first quarter, or 3.7 per cent at an annual pace, according to official data released today, marking the second consecutive quarter of contraction to meet the technical definition of a recession. While the disaster in Japan came at the end of the quarter, it dealt a hefty blow.
"While a further contraction was expected as Japan faced a triple threat of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear problems in mid-March, Q1 GDP contracted at a much faster pace than expected, falling by 3.7 per cent quarter over quarter annualized (-0.9 per cent quarter over quarter) versus expectations of an annualized decline of 1.9 per cent (-0.5 per cent quarter over quarter)," said Scotia Capital economists Karen Cordes Woods and Derek Holt.
"... While we are expecting to witness a rebound in Q3 as reconstruction begins, growth for the year as a whole will be quite modest."
EI claims decline Claims for regular jobless benefits in Canada fell again in March, by 3 per cent, marking the sixth monthly decline in a row.
Over all, initial and renewal claims were 226,600, Statistics Canada said today, down by 4.4 per cent or almost 10,500 from February.
"With this decrease, the number of claims received is the lowest since August 2008, just prior to the start of the labour market downturn," the federal agency said.
It does not say why those claims have declined.
Unemployment in Canada now stands at 7.6 per cent.
In the United States, weekly jobless claims fell to 409,000, a better sign but still above the 400,000 mark.
"Jobless claims continued to descend from their recent spike, but at 409,000 in the latest week, are still at levels consistent with moderate job growth and little progress in bringing unemployment down," said Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Markets.
Glencore has strong debut Glencore International had a fairly strong debut in London today, rising about 3 per cent in unofficial trading as the world's biggest commodities trader joined the stock market. It also turned its partners, led by chief executive officer Ivan Glasenberg, into Europe's newest billionaires or multimillionaires, Globe and Mail European correspondent Eric Reguly reports.
Glencore sold 1.14 billion shares at £5.30 each (about $8.60 U.S.), raising about $10-billion and marking the biggest initial public offering so far this year. The share price came at the mid-point of Glencore's original range, but slightly less than the guidance price issued early this week.
TD trims Dorel target Toronto-Dominion Bank has shaved $2 off its price target for shares of Dorel Industries Inc. after the Montreal-based company's first-quarter earnings miss yesterday.
TD Newcrest analyst Jessy Hayem's new target is $36, still with a "buy recommendation."
"Given the difficulty in passing through price increases, we believe that Dorel must resort to further squeezing suppliers or, at worst, continue absorbing the cost pressure to keep its offer in the opening-mid price point range," she said in a research report.
National Bank Financial analyst Hugues Bourgeois, on the other hand, maintained his $36.50 target and "outperform" rating.
"The challenging U.S. retail environment (in Juvenile) and cost inflation are expected to remain. Raising prices seems to remain a difficult task. On the other hand, Recreational is expected to continue to perform well as it reaps the benefits of its new product line and brand building initiatives."
Dorel is involved in everything from car seats and strollers to furniture and bikes and scooters.
Yesterday, it posted a drop in profit to $31.2-million (U.S.) or 94 cents a share, from $38.2-million or $1.15.
In Economy Lab today
It may be his most important task, and setting Canada's GHG policy course for the next four years will not be an easy one for Environment Minister Peter Kent. By his own admission, meeting Canada's GHG goals will be a daunting challenge and will require stringent regulations on oil and gas, electricity generation, transportation, and other industrial sectors. Andrew Leach examines the issue
In International Business today
With many of its 48 economies rebounding from the crisis faster than the rest of the world, sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly viewed as an opportunity rather than a burden. It is rising rapidly up the agenda for global investment managers and is talked about as never before in almost every big financial centre. The Financial Times reports
When it comes to hot real estate markets, Norway wouldn't be the first place to pop into the thoughts of most investors. But when Brian Milner asked top analyst Jan Willem to name his favourite under-the-radar market in the world, he didn't hesitate.
In Personal Finance today
What can you do about fees as an investor? Read the Fund Facts sheets being introduced across the mutual fund industry. They can help investors with key facts such as a fund's fees, a risk scale and deferred sales charges, Rob Carrick reports.
Making changes to the grounds of larger properties can help qualify them as 'principal residences.' Tax Matters columnist Tim Cestnick explains.
A new survey shows most customers of group-buying websites purchase deals because of irresistible prices, not because they need the product, Home Cents blogger Sonali Verma writes.
From today's Report on Business
- Target's Canadian foray hits cost hurdle
- Google's big bet on Canada
- For new industry minister, a steep learning curve
- Eric Reguly: If only the EU had listened to Strauss-Kahn's rescue plan