December 2017 edition

This module provides a concise summary of selected Canadian economic events, as well as international and financial market developments by calendar month. It is intended to provide contextual information only to support users of the economic data published by Statistics Canada. In identifying major events or developments, Statistics Canada is not suggesting that these have a material impact on the published economic data in a particular reference month.      

All information presented here is obtained from publicly available news and information sources, and does not reflect any protected information provided to Statistics Canada by survey respondents. 

Resources

  • Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc. announced that its total capital spending for 2018 is expected to be $2.9 billion to $3.1 billion. The company also said its capital spending for 2017, not including the acquisition of the Superior Refinery, remains within guidance at $2.2 billion to $2.3 billion.
  • Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc. announced it plans to invest between $1.5 billion and $1.7 billion in 2018, with the majority of the budget allocated to sustain base production at the company’s oil sands operations. Cenovus also said it is planning additional workforce reductions of approximately 15%.
  • Calgary-based Inter Pipeline Ltd. announced it has authorized the construction of an integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene plant. The company said the facilities, collectively referred to as the Heartland Petrochemical Complex, are estimated to cost $3.5 billion in aggregate and will be located in Strathcona County, Alberta. Completion of the complex is scheduled for late 2021.
  • Halifax-based ExxonMobil Canada Ltd. announced that the Hebron platform produced first oil on November 27th. The company said the oil was extracted from the Hebron field in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin, located 350 kilometres offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • On December 7th, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of softwood lumber from Canada that the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value. The USITC said that as a result, the DOC will issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of this product from Canada. Previously, on November 28th, the Government of Canada announced it had formally requested World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations with the United States concerning the DOC’s recent final anti-dumping and countervailing duty determinations on imports of certain softwood lumber products from Canada.

Manufacturing

  • Calgary-based NOVA Chemicals Corporation announced two projects for its Ontario operations involving a capital investment expected to exceed $2.0 billion in the Sarnia-Lambton region. The company said the investment includes the expansion of its Corunna, Ontario cracker and a new polyethylene facility.
  • Guelph-based Linamar Corporation announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the outstanding equity interests of Winnipeg-based MacDon and its Group of Companies for an aggregate purchase price of $1.2 billion. The company said the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, subject to customary regulatory approvals.
  • California-based Platinum Equity, LLC announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Husky Injection Molding Systems International Ltd. of Bolton, Ontario from OMERS Private Equity of Toronto and Berkshire Partners of Massachusetts for USD $3.85 billion. The company said the transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.
  • Switzerland-based Nestle S.A. announced it had agreed to acquire Atrium Innovations of Montreal for USD $2.3 billion. The company said the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018 following the completion of customary approvals and closing conditions.
  • On December 20th, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced its affirmative final determinations in the antidumping duty and countervailing duty investigations of imports of 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft from Canada. The DOC applied a final dumping margin of 79.82% and a final subsidy rate of 212.39%, and will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers based on these final rates. The DOC also said the International Trade Commission is scheduled to make its final determinations on or about February 1, 2018.

Finance and insurance

  • Scotiabank announced that Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (BBVA) of Spain had formally accepted Scotiabank’s offer to acquire its 68.19% ownership in BBVA Chile, and its interests in certain subsidiaries, for approximately $2.9 billion. Scotiabank said it had entered into definitive agreements with BBVA and intends to merge BBVA Chile with its existing operations in Chile, subject to regulatory approvals.

Other news

  • The Bank of Canada maintained the target for the overnight rate at 1.00%. The last change in the target for the overnight rate was a 25 basis-point increase announced in September 2017.
  • On November 28th, the Government of Alberta tabled its 2017-18 Fiscal Update and Economic Statement which included a revised Capital Plan forecast of $8.3 billion, a decrease of $883 million from the budget. The Government forecasts a $10.3 billion deficit in 2017-18 and economic growth of 4.0% in 2017 and 2.5% in 2018.
  • On November 29th, the Government of Saskatchewan tabled its Budget Update 2017-18. The Government forecasts a $679 million deficit in 2017-18 and economic growth of 1.5% in 2017 and 2.2% in 2018.
  • The Government of British Columbia announced it will complete construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam.
  • The Government of Canada announced that Canada’s Finance Ministers agreed to ensure, for two years, that the combined rate of all federal, provincial and territorial cannabis-specific taxes will not exceed the higher of $1.00 per gram, or 10% of a producer’s selling price, and that this tax room will be shared on the following basis: 75% to provincial and territorial governments; 25% to the federal government. The Government also said the federal portion of cannabis excise tax revenue will be capped at $100 million annually and that any federal revenue in excess of $100 million will flow to the provinces and territories.
  • The Government of British Columbia announced that: it will set the minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis at 19 years old; the BC Liquor Distribution Branch will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in the province; and the Province anticipates establishing a retail model that includes both public and private retail opportunities.
  • The Government of Manitoba introduced legislation that would set out where and how legal cannabis may be sold. The Government said Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries would be responsible for acquiring all cannabis for retail sale, while the Liquor and Gaming Authority would be renamed the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority and would be responsible for licensing cannabis stores and distributors and for compliance enforcement. The Government also said that growing cannabis at home for recreational purposes will be prohibited and that individuals must be aged 19 years or older to buy, possess and use cannabis.
  • The Government of Nova Scotia announced key decisions about the legalization of cannabis, including a legal age of 19 years old for use, purchase, and possession, as well as a personal cultivation limit of up to four plants per household. The Government said that distribution and sales of cannabis will be online and in existing Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stores.
  • The Government of Prince Edward Island outlined three directions related to implementing the federal government’s objective of legalizing cannabis, including setting the legal age for cannabis use at 19 years old; restricting cannabis use to private residences; and establishing that cannabis will be sold in dedicated government-owned retail locations as well as through an e-commerce platform.
  • Smiths Falls, Ontario-based Canopy Growth Corporation and representatives from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced that Canopy and the Government had entered into a supply and production agreement, securing a regulated supply of cannabis for the province.
  • Leamington, Ontario-based Aphria Inc. announced it had entered into an agreement to become a medical cannabis supplier to Shoppers Drug Mart.
  • Toronto-based Metrolinx announced it had negotiated new contract terms with Bombardier Transportation for the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit system in Toronto. Metrolinx said the new agreement is for Bombardier to manufacture 76 light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown project, 106 vehicles less than the original contract for 182 vehicles.
  • Montreal-based Canadian National Railway Company announced it will acquire 200 new locomotives over the next three years from GE Transportation of Illinois. The company said the locomotives will be produced at the GE Manufacturing Solutions facility in Fort Worth, Texas beginning in 2018, and that the first units are expected to be delivered in 2018 with the balance delivered in 2019 and 2020.

United States and other international news

  • The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the target range for the federal funds interest rate by 25 basis points to 1.25% to 1.50%. The last change in the target range was a 25 basis point increase announced in June 2017.
  • The European Central Bank (ECB) left the interest rate on the main refinancing operations of the Eurosystem unchanged at 0.00%, and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility unchanged at 0.25% and -0.40%, respectively. The ECB also confirmed that net asset purchases will continue at a monthly pace of €30 billion from January 2018 until the end of September 2018.
  • The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee maintained the Bank Rate at 0.50%, and the stock of UK government bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £435 billion. The last change in the Bank Rate was a 25 basis-point increase in November 2017.
  • The Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced it will continue to apply a -0.1% interest rate to the Policy-Rate Balances in current accounts held by financial institutions at the BoJ. The BoJ also said it would continue to purchase Japanese government bonds (JGB) so that 10-year JGB yields will remain at around zero percent.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia maintained the cash rate at 1.50%. The last change in the cash rate was a 25 basis point reduction in August 2016.
  • Sweden's Riksbank left its main interest rate, the repo rate, unchanged at -0.5%. The last change in the repo rate was a 15 basis point cut in February 2016. The Riksbank also said that net purchases of government bonds will amount to a nominal value of SEK 290 billion at the end of 2017 and that redemptions and coupon payments in the government bond portfolio will be reinvested until further notice.
  • On December 22nd, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law Bill H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which amends the Internal Revenue Code to reduce tax rates and modify policies, credits, and deductions for individuals and businesses.
  • The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced on November 30th that it and certain non-OPEC producing countries had committed to amend the Declaration of Cooperation, originally announced on November 30th 2016, to take effect for all of 2018. OPEC also said it intends to consider the opportunity for further adjustment actions in June 2018.
  • The European Council announced on December 15th that, based on the European Commission’s positive assessment, European Union leaders have decided that sufficient progress had been made in the first phase of the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom, allowing the negotiations to proceed to their second phase.
  • Germany-based Bombardier Transportation announced it had signed a contract with Corelink Rail Infrastructure and West Midlands Trains to supply 333 new Bombardier Aventra vehicles for use on the United Kingdom’s West Midlands Trains franchise. Bombardier said the overall value of the rolling stock and maintenance contracts are approximately USD $724 million, and that the new trains are expected to be delivered between 2020 and 2022.
  • New Jersey-based Toys “R” Us, Inc. announced that, as part of its ongoing financial restructuring efforts, its UK operation has initiated a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) process under which it has submitted an operational restructuring plan to creditors. Toys “R” Us said the process is likely to involve the closure of at least 26 stores, with closures expected to commence in spring 2018.
  • Iowa-based Meredith Corporation announced that it had entered into a binding agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of Time Inc. of New York in an all-cash transaction valued at USD $2.8 billion. Meredith said the transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2018.
  • Massachusetts-based General Electric announced that GE Power plans to reduce its global headcount by approximately 12,000 positions, affecting both professional and production employees.
  • California-based The Walt Disney Company and Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. of New York announced they had entered into a definitive agreement for Disney to acquire Twenty-First Century Fox, including the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses, for a total transaction value of approximately USD $66.1 billion. Disney said the transaction is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.
  • Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. announced a restructuring plan that includes closures or divestments of a significant number of manufacturing plants in the United States, Europe, Israel and Growth Markets, as well closures or divestments of a significant number of R&D facilities, headquarters and other office locations across all geographies. The company said these steps are expected to result in the reduction of 14,000 positions globally - over 25% of Teva’s total workforce – over the next two years, with the majority of the reductions expected to occur in 2018.
  • United Kingdom/Netherlands-based Unilever PLC announced it had received a binding offer from KKR & Co. L.P of New York to purchase its global Spreads business for €6.825 billion. The company said the offer is subject to certain regulatory approvals and employee consultation in certain jurisdictions, and that completion is expected mid-2018.

Financial market news

  • Crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) closed at USD $59.64 on December 27th, up from USD $57.40 at the end of November. The Canadian dollar closed at 79.11 cents U.S. on December 27th, up from 77.59 cents U.S. on November 30th. The S&P/TSX closed at 16,203.13 on December 27th, up from a closing value of 16,067.48 at the end of November.
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