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Noah Zivitz

Managing Editor, BNN Bloomberg

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The federal government soon has to make a crucial decision for the travel and hospitality industries: stay the course on rigid border and isolation restrictions or loosen up for the crucial summer holidays season as vaccination rates climb. Our Bloomberg News partners are hearing it will be the latter, with a report that the federal government is “preparing to ease” rules for fully-vaccinated travelers. An announcement is expected within days; while the specifics aren’t clear, presumably this will be welcome news for border towns, hotel operators, and countless other business owners. We’ll chase reaction.

WEB OUTAGE

It didn’t last long, but it was another reminder of our digital dependence and the vulnerabilities therein. Shopify, The New York Times, Reddit and Amazon are just a few of the names that were affected by an outage this morning that introduced many of us to a company called Fastly, which helps shuttle data across the internet and whose shares at one point were down more than two per cent  in pre-market trading. In a tweet shortly after 7 a.m., Fastly pinned the blame on a “service configuration” and said its network was ramping back up.                                                                                 

COLONIAL PIPELINE CEO IN THE HOT SEAT

For the first time since the cyberattack that crippled the crucial American gasoline pipeline, the chief executive officer of Colonial Pipeline will speak publicly today when Joseph Blount addresses a U.S. Senate committee hearing on threats to critical infrastructure. His remarks come one day after America’s deputy attorney general announced most of the US$4.4 million ransom that was paid to perpetrators has been recovered. Have to imagine Blount’s testimony will be a must-watch for corporate executives across the globe with ransomware threats on the rise.

$2.08 TRILLION AND COUNTING…

That was the total amount of consumer debt in this country as of the end of the first quarter, according to data released today by Equifax that underscores the extent to which Canada’s economy is built on housing. To wit: while credit card debt is sitting at the lowest level in six years as the pandemic alters consumer behaviour, the size and volume of mortgages taken out in the first quarter ballooned 20.5 per cent and 41.2 per cent respectively, according to Equifax. And while the report shows delinquency rates are falling for the most part, there are outliers (like in Fort McMurray, where the mortgage delinquency rate surged 38 per cent year-over-year). We’ll take all of this into consideration ahead of tomorrow’s update from the Bank of Canada.          

OTHER NOTABLE STORIES

  • Bloomberg is reporting the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is reconsidering its future involvement with Apollo Global Management as a result of performance and the private equity giant’s handling of the controversy surrounding former CEO Leon Black’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein. According to the story, CPPIB is in the midst of a “broader assessment” of its use of outside managers. The report is based on an unidentified source.
  • Enbridge is cashing out of gas and power distributor Énergir’s parent company, announcing it struck a deal to sell a 38.9 per cent stake in Noverco to a consortium led by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for $1.14 billion. Proceeds will be used to pay down debt.
  • Pembina Pipeline announced this morning it’s picking up a 50 per cent ownership stake in the $3-billion Cedar LNG project that’s being pursued by the Haisla First Nation. Pembina said it’s expecting to invest $90 million over the next two years before a final investment decision is made.
  • Canada unexpected swung to a trade surplus in April as imports fell more sharply than exports. All told, the surplus tallied $594 million, compared to a deficit of $1.3 billion in March.
  • Canfor announced this morning it’s going to spend US$160 million to build a new sawmill in Louisiana. The decision is, in partly, being attributed to “significant state and local incentives”, and Canfor added that as a result it’s scrapping plans for a new project in Georgia.

NOTABLE RELEASES/EVENTS

  • Notable data: Canadian trade balance, U.S. trade balance
  • 10:00: Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount addresses U.S. Senate Home Security & Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on cyberattack
  • 11:45: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne make virtual announcement with Nova Bus (plus 12:15 avail)  
  • 14:30: CMHC CEO Romy Bowers addresses Senate National Finance Committee