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Canadian dollar sinks below 94¢, with more room to fall

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Dec, 2, 2013.

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Loonie sinks
The loonie continued to erode today (on Cyber Monday, of all days, when Canadians shopping online no doubt hoped their money bought more.)

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It bounced around the 94-cent level and ended just shy of that.

The loonie, as the dollar coin is known in Canada, has been sinking for some time, and analysts have trimmed their projections for the currency's value, at least in the short term.

This comes as economists expect a more "dovish" Bank of Canada statement after Governor Stephen Poloz and his colleagues meet this week.

"Friday's stronger-than-expected quarterly GDP print, rising 2.7 per cent annualized, and increasing evidence of an uptick in the global manufacturing cycle have been ignored by CAD traders as the market focuses on the risk surrounding Wednesday's BoC meeting and the potential for a more dovish turn by Governor Poloz," said chief currency strategist Camilla Sutton, referring to the loonie by its symbol.

"We do expect the BoC to strike a dovish tone; however it is highly unlikely that they warn of interest rate cuts considering the risks surrounding financial stability (even as the government introduced late last week a new risk fee on CMHC mortgages beginning January 1, 2014)."

Many observers expect the loonie to trade in the 93-cent to 94-cent range, though Goldman Sachs Group Inc. projects an 88-cent level, and is recommending shorting the currency.

"Note that commodity prices have fallen almost 10 per cent from their summer average level (according to the BoC's index), with the sag in Canadian oil prices especially weighing," said chief economist Douglas Porter of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

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"Based on this simple relationship, one could readily argue that the sag in the loonie just compensates for the recent pullback in resource prices, and that it has more downside yet," he added in a reserch note.

"With foreign investors now less enamored with Canada, the commodity, rate and trade fundamentals matter more. And they're not especially friendly for the C$ either at this point."

Barrick to unveil shuffle
Barrick Gold Corp. is expected to announce on Wednesday that its founder and chairman Peter Munk will step down at the company's annual meeting and hand over the reins to co-chairman John Thornton, The Globe and Mail's Rachelle Younglai reports.

Its stock sank by more than 6 per cent today.

The company, which Mr. Munk built into the world's largest gold producer, is also expected to announce changes to its board of directors after the board meets this week.

In November, the company signalled in a regulatory filing that Mr. Munk would retire by the next annual general meeting and said it would provide the market with corporate governance updates, including changes to Barrick's board and the company's executive compensation arrangements.

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The announcement will come after Barrick's institutional investors, including the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, had expressed concern that there were not enough independent directors on Barrick's board and voted against Mr. Thornton's $11.9-million signing bonus.

Icahn gets seat at table
Carl Icahn is poised to become a force for change at Talisman Energy Inc.

The Canadian oil company said today it struck a deal with Mr. Icahn that paves the way for two new directors this month.

Samuel Merksamer and Jonathan Christodoro are both managing directors at Icahn Capital LP, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

Mr. Icahn, who owns about 7 per cent of Talisman stock, has agreed to "certain standstill restrictions" until either the company's 2014 annual meeting, or the departure from the board of the two new members, one of whom will sit on the succession committee for the next chief executive officer.

"We look forward to working with the board of directors and management with a common objective of creating sustainable value for all shareholders," Mr. Icahn said in a statement.

Talisman shares gained 4.5 per cent today.

Meet George Jetson
Here's my vision of coming home after work five years from now:

The car drops me off at the front door and then parks itself, I relax on the couch and check over the day's work via Google Glass, I order a book on my smartphone, track the delivery schedule on my smartwatch, and 30 minutes later actually get off the couch to go to the door and meet the delivery drone from

(I'll grant you there may be no point in ordering a physical book because it would be easier just to download the e-book version.)

Jeff Bezos agrees it's the stuff of science fiction, but he's working on what calls an "Octocopter," an unmanned electric propeller-driven drone that delivers your packages.

As The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad reports, isn't the first to see a future in drones.

Mr. Bezos unveiled's latest yesterday on 60 Minutes, the CBS show, sparking, of course, a round of comments and jokes on Twitter.

("If you think flying on a holiday is hell now, just wait." "People worried about drone safety should take a ride on I-95." "Fedex will just lob shipments to you by cannon and hope for the best.")

Mr. Bezos sees this happening in, say, four of five years. The package would be at the door within half an hour of the online purchase.

Obviously this needs the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration, and, as he puts it, things need to be refined so a passerby doesn't get whacked in the head by a drone.

These wouldn't be controlled by people, by the way, but rather guided by GPS. They'd be able to fly within a 10-mile radius of an centre.

The online retailer has posted information about the program – dubbed Prime Air – on its website. Complete with video.

"Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations," says.

"It looks like science fiction, but it's real," the company added.

"From a technology point of view, we'll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place … One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today."

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