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Noah Zivitz

Managing Editor, BNN Bloomberg

|Archive

It was a rare sighting for the country’s largest housing market last month as property sales and prices fell amid signs that prospective buyers could be tapped out. Granted, the average price is still north of $1 million and not too far off from the record set in March. But when sales fall sequentially across all home categories, it forces a double-take. “We may be starting to exhaust the pool of potential buyers within the existing GTA population,” according to the local real estate board’s president.

STOCKS STABILIZE

U.S. futures are pointing to modest gains at the start of trading in the aftermath of damage control by Janet Yellen. After triggering a bout of market turmoil yesterday with her initial (blindingly obvious) comments that rates may eventually have to rise, the former U.S. Federal Reserve chair walked back her remarks later in the day by saying she was neither making a prediction nor a recommendation. Makes you wonder how the market responds whenever Fed Chair Jerome Powell actually has to telegraph a taper, let alone a rate increase.

ALBERTA COVID CRACKDOWN

New rules are being brought in to curb the pandemic’s spread in the oil-rich province. The measures include reduced retail capacity, suspended patio service at restaurants and bars, mandatory 10-day closure of workplaces that suffer three or more infections and a transition to online learning. We’ll chase reaction from business leaders affected by the new restrictions.        

SUNCOR CEO ADDRESSES 'WEAK' STOCK PRICE

Mark Little clearly has share buybacks on his mind. He touted the company’s more than half-billion dollars in repurchases this year, and noted “the share price for Suncor is particularly weak within the group and so it’s a great time to be buying back shares.” He also addressed how that weakness factors into Suncor’s M&A strategy, hinted that there could be news about future adjustments to the company’s dividend at an investor day presentation later this month, and discussed the COVID outbreak in Fort McMurray. If you missed it, check it out here.

OTHER NOTABLE STORIES

  • The transfer of assets is underway between Bill and Melinda Gates after their recently-announced divorce. Notably for our purposes, a regulatory filing shows nearly 14.1 million shares in Canadian National Railway were transferred to Melinda from Bill (via Cascade Investment).
  • Loblaw exceeded first-quarter profit estimates by a wide margin while warning that year-over-year comparisons are getting rough as a result of panic buying in grocery stores at the onset of the pandemic. The company says its same-store food sales have “declined slightly” in the four weeks since the end of Q1.
  • Barrick Gold’s first-quarter adjusted profit and free cash flow surged on the back of higher gold prices. The miner said it’s on track to hit full-year targets and disclosed the first $250-million tranche of a special return of capital to shareholders will be dished out on June 15. Another $500 million will be paid later this year.
  • Stelco Holdings swung to a profit and reported a 49 per cent revenue surge in the first quarter amid what Executive Chairman and CEO Alan Kestenbaum describes as a “rising tide in pricing” which he says allows Stelco to evaluate “many different capital allocation options.” We’ll address that when Kestenbaum joins Commodities at 11:50 a.m. ET.
  • Equitable Bank is benefitting from the pandemic’s impact on our banking habits as the branchless lender attracted 28,000 additional customers in the first quarter. Equitable’s profit surged 172 per cent year-over-year, prompting it to raise some full-year forecasts. We’ll speak with CEO Andrew Moor at 3:20 p.m.
  • Plant-based protein was a revenue drag for Maple Leaf Foods in the latest quarter, with the group’s sales slipping 8 per cent year-over-year. Overall sales and profit nonetheless matched estimates.
  • Lyft shares are rallying in pre-market trading after the ride-hailing service reported a narrower adjusted EBITDA loss than analysts expected and sequential improvements in revenue and ridership.

NOTABLE RELEASES/EVENTS

  • Notable data: U.S. ISM services index
  • Notable earnings: Barrick Gold, Loblaw, Maple Leaf Foods, Manulife Financial, Sun Life Financial, Great-West Lifeco, Franco-Nevada, GFL Environmental, Boralex, Fortis, Arc Resources, Tourmaline Oil, Constellation Software, Spin Master, Gildan Activewear, AutoCanada, A&W Revenue Royalties Income Fund, General Motors, Uber Technologies, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Booking Holdings,
  • 9 a.m.: Parliamentary Budget Officer releases report "Budget 2021: Issues for Parliamentarians"
  • Approx. 9 a.m.: Facebook Oversight Board to announce if former U.S. President Donald Trump can regain access to his accounts (background here)
  • 3:45 p.m.: Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland addresses Budget Implementation Act in virtual remarks to House of Commons