These are stories Report on Business is following Friday, April 17, 2015.
'Chewie, we're home'
It was one of those moments.
And I'll bet that more than one economist, somewhere in the world, mused jokingly about how the release of the new Star Wars trailer might have affected productivity.
Twitter lit up and Facebook buzzed as employees downed tools to watch the online trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Actually, they just switched websites, but that's the modern-day equivalent of downing tools.
Full disclosure here: I did it, too, but I'll argue that it's part of my job because Walt Disney Co., which now owns the franchise, is publicly traded.
And to the second disclosure: I think my family may own stock in Disney, a holdover from its takeover of Marvel and whose shares climbed after the release, though ended yesterday down slightly.
Fans of the franchise, which Disney got with its $4-billion (U.S.) acquisition of Lucasfilm a few years ago, watched the trailer over and over. And over.
There was the oh-so-familiar music, the lightsabers, the distinct firing sounds of the fighters, and, for many, a magical moment at the end as Harrison Ford's now much older Han Solo says to the Wookiee: "Chewie, we're home."
Besides being viewed God knows how many times online yesterday, the trailer for the mid-December release became the talk of Twitter.
Quartz, for example, published a Twitter roundup of the many fans who wept, particularly at the end. For example: "I didn't cry on my wedding day. But I did cry after watching that new Star Wars trailer."
Star Wars has always been big business, with a reported box office tally at $4.5-billion so far, and this seventh film promises to carry on the tradition.
The trailer was officially launched at a convention yesterday in Anaheim, Calif., that featured not only celebrated director J.J. Abrams, but also original cast members Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, who, the last time I saw him, looked seriously out of shape but now appears to have slimmed down.
Remember that now-famous hairdo of Ms. Fisher's Princess Leia?
The famous buns "are tired," she reportedly said yesterday at the convention. But she promised something else, and not "the metal bikini."
For the record, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz is a huge fan of the Star Trek series. I might just call the central bank later today and ask what he thinks about Star Wars.
- Excitement mounts as new Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser is released
- Quartz: The new Stars trailer prompted a flood of tears from ecstatic fans
- Video with Sherrill Sutherland: The side of Stephen Poloz you probably don’t know about
Inflation picks up
The price of gasoline is skewing monthly inflation readings.
But if you strip that out, the rise in consumer prices in March didn't change much from February, according to Statistics Canada today.
As The Globe and Mail's David Parkinson reports, annual inflation rose last month to 1.2 per cent from February's 1 per cent.
Lower pump prices were the biggest factor holding it down.
They fell 19.2 per cent from a year earlier, but that was a slightly slower pace than the annual drop in February of 21.8 per cent.
So, consumer prices rose 2.2 per cent in both months, annually, when gas is excluded.
Having said that, prices at the pump rose 6.3 per cent March on a month-to-month basis, having climbed 9.4 per cent in February.
Food prices also rose on an annual basis by 3.8 per cent in March, pumped by a surge of almost 12 per cent for meat, almost 6.5 per cent for fresh vegetables and more than 2 per cent for fresh fruit.
So-called core inflation, which strips out volatile items and helps guide the Bank of Canada, rose to 2.4 per cent annually.
"Seasonally adjusted, the monthly change in the core index was 0.4 per cent, much stronger than the recent pace, and highlights the effects that the cheaper C$ is having in influencing price trends higher," said Nick Exarhos of CIBC World Markets.
Separately today, Statistics Canada also reported that shoppers opened their wallets a bit more in February as retail sales across the country rebounded by 1.7 per cent, after having dropped in December and January.
"For retail trade in February, despite the harsher-than-normal weather, the consumer showed some signs of life," Mr. Exarhos said.
- David Parkinson: Inflation rate rises to 1.2% as pricier food offsets energy slump
- Gasoline, shelter costs lift U.S. consumer prices
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