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This satellite photo taken April 26, 2010, shows cleanup vessels working in the area of an oil slick created after the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/ DigitalGlobe)
This satellite photo taken April 26, 2010, shows cleanup vessels working in the area of an oil slick created after the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/ DigitalGlobe)

Business Briefing

Oil spill's effects, and Fairfax Financial's profit Add to ...

Fairfax reverses loss on investment gains

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. earned $290.2-million (U.S.) in the first quarter on the back of strong investment gains, turning around the $39.6-million loss it announced a year ago.

The money that Fairfax made on its investments more than made up for the $136.8-million in losses the insurer experienced as a result of the Chilean earthquake.

Fairfax's investment gains amounted to $415.6-million in the three months ended March 31. It lost $153-million during the same period a year ago, when it was stung by the investments it then held in a number of media companies, such as Torstar Corp., CanWest Global Communications Corp., and AbitibiBowater Inc. The company wrote down the value of most of those holdings on its books.

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Canadian Oil Sands boosts payout

Canadian Oil Sands Trust, the largest partner in the Syncrude Canada Ltd. oil sands project, said Thursday its first-quarter profit jumped almost fourfold despite a drop in output as crude prices surged.

Canadian Oil Sands raised its quarterly cash distribution by 43 per cent to 50 cents a unit, citing its expectation that crude prices will stay strong.

The trust earned $167-million, or 35 cents per unit, up from $43-million, or 9 cents, in the first quarter of 2009.

It was expected to post a profit of 28 cents a unit, according the average analyst forecast compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Profit surged on oil prices that rose 86 per cent from the first quarter of 2009 to average $78.37 (U.S.) a barrel.

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Gulf oil spill may affect U.S. drilling plans

The Obama administration said Thursday that the massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast will be considered in a planned expansion of offshore drilling and will become part of the debate on climate change in Congress.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the cause of the oil rig explosion, still not determined, could affect what areas the government would open for future drilling.

But Mr. Gibbs and other officials said President Barack Obama remains committed to plans to expand offshore drilling to areas that now are off limits.

Mr. Obama has called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to central Florida, plus the northern waters of Alaska. He also wants Congress to lift a drilling ban in the oil-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico, 200 kilometres from Florida beaches.

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Time magazine likes Carney

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has been named to Time magazine's seventh annual list of the world's 100 most influential people.

Mr. Carney was No. 21 on the list, which includes the likes of U.S. President Barack Obama, former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, golfer Phil Mickelson and Lady Gaga.

``Now that the world's richest nations are working to co-ordinate new financial rules, Carney is clamouring to stay focused on the causes of the crisis - like banks not holding enough capital and Western consumers spending too much - instead of getting distracted by populist zeal,'' Time's blurb on Mr. Carney said.

``The ex-Goldman Sachs banker, who isn't afraid to crack a joke or roll his eyes, has also been warning Canadians not to take on too much personal debt,'' Time continued, crediting Mr. Carney with ``the sort of straight talk one rarely hears from a person whose job it is to juice the economy.''

Time also refers to the Governor as "good-looking," "charming" and "wicked smart."

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Canada pledges funds for bridge

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said Thursday that Canada is prepared to cover up to $550-million (U.S.) of Michigan's costs for a proposed new international bridge across the Detroit River.

The elements that the Canadian government are offering to pay for wouldn't be funded by the U.S. government or the public-private partnership seeking to build the bridge.

The money, pledged in a letter to Ms. Granholm from Canadian Transport Minister John Baird on Thursday, would go toward the Detroit River International Crossing, which proponents are proposing to build about three kilometres downstream from the existing Ambassador Bridge.

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