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Noah Zivitz

Managing Editor, BNN Bloomberg

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U.S. President Joe Biden will sign his ’Buy American’ executive order today, as he delivers on another campaign promise that risks injecting a bit of friction into relations with Canada. “It is long overdue that the U.S. government utilizes the full force of current domestic preferences to support America’s workers and businesses, strengthening our economy, workers and communities across the country,” Biden said in a release this morning that comes on the heels of his call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday, in which Canada’s official readout states the two leaders “agreed to consult to avoid measures that may constrain bilateral trade, supply chains, and economic growth.”

COVID WATCH

Plenty of threads to pull on. Merck announced this morning it’s throwing in the towel on its vaccine candidates after underwhelming immune responses in Phase 1 studies. As a result, it’s going to book an unspecified charge in fourth quarter 2020 results and said it’s still working on two investigational medicines. Moderna said this morning its vaccine is showing effectiveness against the COVID variants. No doubt the pandemic – and this country’s bumpy vaccine rollout – will be up for discussion as the House of Commons gets back to business today. A couple additional talking points: today’s the anniversary of Canada’s first presumptive case, and the global number of cases is closing in on 100 million, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM CANADIAN BANK EARNINGS

Credit Suisse Analyst Mike Rizvanovic has shed some light on expectations for Canada’s banks based on what the big U.S. financials reported this month. The main themes: loan-loss reversals aren’t going to be matched here just yet; net interest income is still a drag; RBC and BMO are best positioned to benefit from the stellar investment banking numbers that were reported.

GAMESTOP SHENANIGANS

The video game retailer’s shares are up another 40 per cent in pre-market trading, meaning the bewildering activity that saw GME surge 51 per cent on Friday isn’t about to end as chat room bulls stare down Wall Street bears. “It doesn’t make business sense,” is how Loup Ventures Co-Founder Doug Clinton summed it up for Bloomberg News. Whether it makes sense or not, it most definitely raises questions about market integrity.

OVERHAULING CAPITAL MARKETS

On the theme of market integrity: We're looking forward to speaking with Bay Street power broker Walied Soliman this morning about the 74 recommendations that have been tabled by Ontario's Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce. A major theme is the need to expand and strengthen the Ontario Securities Commission's role. Hot button issues like board diversity, short selling, and what to do about crypto are also covered. One big question is how far the taskforce expects its recommendations to be pushed, seeing as how they were tasked in this matter by now-ousted Finance Minister Rod Phillips. Soliman, the Canadian chair of Norton Rose Fulbright who leads the taskforce, joins The Open at 10:40 a.m.

OTHER NOTABLE STORIES

- TFI International announced a bold move this morning: the Montreal-based trucking and logistics firm is buying UPS Freight for US$800 million. The business that TFI is picking up generated US$3 billion in revenue last year.

Telus International filed updated paperwork today for its initial public offering. Most notably, it’s setting the target price range at US$23-$25 per share and will offer 33,333,333 shares – with roughly one third coming from existing shareholders.  

Great Canadian Gaming announced this morning Rod Baker has resigned as the company’s chief executive officer and president. He’s also giving his seat on the board of directors. Strategic Growth President Terrance Doyle will serve as CEO on an interim basis.

- Interesting snapshot of market psychology in a new Scotiabank survey. Sixty-seven per cent of respondents said they still see opportunity in the current market environment, while 33 per cent said they’re holding off on investing all together due to pandemic uncertainty.

Valens Co. could be a stock to watch today on the TSX after the cannabis extractor announced it’s raising $35 million in a bought deal financing.  

AMC Entertainment shares are spiking in pre-market trading and its CEO talked down the near-term possibility of filing for bankruptcy protection.

NOTABLE RELEASES/EVENTS

- Notable data: Statistics Canada flash estimate of manufacturing sales (Dec)

- 7 a.m. ET: China President Xi Jinping delivers keynote at virtual Davos Forum

- 9 a.m. ET: Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O’Toole holds news conference in Ottawa

-9:30 a.m. ET: Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force provides update on vaccination plan in technical briefing for media

-12 p.m. ET: World Health Organization COVID-19 update, includes release of “compelling economic research that speaks to the importance of fully funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator”

-12:30 p.m. ET: Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland makes announcement in Ottawa alongside Middle Class Prosperity Minister Mona Fortier

-1 p.m. ET: Ontario Premier Doug Ford provides COVID-19 update

-3:45 p.m. ET: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on strengthening American manufacturing and signs Buy American executive order 

- House of Commons resumes sitting

- Anniversary of first presumptive novel coronavirus case in Canada (man who arrived in Toronto from Wuhan)

- Deadline for public comment on Impact Assessment Agency of Canada's proposed changes to conditions for LNG Canada export facility