Retailers saw a boost in November before lockdowns began to bite, StatsCan figures show

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In what has been a persistent bright spot for retail throughout the pandemic, e-commerce sales continued to soar, up by more than 75 per cent compared to last November. But they have not been enough to overcome regional restrictions that forced stores to close in most of Canada’s largest markets.

“You just can’t make that up,” LeBlanc said.

Retail sales are expected to have only gotten worse since, as stay-at-home orders started to come into effect in late November and persisted into December, tamping down the usual Christmas shopping rush and the critical Boxing Day sales push. StatsCan’s preliminary estimate was that December sales fell by 2.6 per cent.

“And with lockdowns intensifying in parts of the country, we expect sales will dip again in January,” RBC economists Nathan Janzen and Claire Fan wrote in a research note on Friday. They said RBC’s credit and debit card spending data point to “sales falling about five per cent in December.” But they also stressed that the drop was much less acute “than in the spring when retail sales plunged over 30 per cent over March and April.”

We expect sales will dip again in January

RBC economists Nathan Janzen and Claire Fan

TD economist Ksenia Bushmeneva gave some reason for the sector to hope, noting that winter lockdowns will lead to less spending and higher savings, creating pent-up demand that will be unleashed on the market in the second half of 2021.

“Spending is expected to rebound as restrictions are lifted and vaccines become widely available,” Bushmeneva wrote in a research note Friday.

LeBlanc at the Retail Council said that would be especially good news for struggling clothing stores.

“There’s a school of thought that people are going to be so fed up of wearing what we wear today, that you’re going to see a big acceleration in the opposite direction,” he said. “You know, people are going to want to dress up. I mean, I will.”

Financial Post

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Editors’ Picks: Our Favorite Things for November 2019 Cinnamon Roll Signature Protein Crunch Bar

Recommended by Shoshanna Cohen, content editor

I’ll be honest: I love living the healthy life, but sometimes I wish I could just have a coffee and a cinnamon roll for breakfast every morning instead of a swampy-looking smoothie. Every so often I’ll compromise with a protein bar, but it generally takes a lot of imagination to pretend most bars are anything like a breakfast pastry.

The new Signature cinnamon roll protein crunch bar comes pretty close, though. With its sweet cinnamon filling and creamy frosting studded with crunchy bits, it reminds me of cinnamon toaster pastries—but with a much cleaner nutrition label. The 230-calorie bar clocks in at 20 grams of premium whey protein, 5 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of fiber to carry me through the morning and keep my eyes off the ubiquitous office doughnut box. Yes, the offices occasionally have one of those, too!

VersaLifts Heel Lifts

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I’m a believer that the flattest, least supportive training shoe is usually the best option—and I know plenty of other lifters are with me. But there’s a problem: I simply can’t deny that a few specific moves—things like high-bar back squats, front squats, and kettlebell or barbell complexes—simply look and feel better with a slightly elevated heel. Whatever the reason, the eyes and hips don’t lie.

That’s why I was thrilled to see that someone finally made heel lifts with lifters in mind. The VersaLifts V2 slides into any shoe and gives it an extra half-inch of heel height, with a firm, grippy surface that I barely notice in the shoe but definitely notice in the lift.

No, they’re not going to give you enough of a boost to match up with your favorite Do-Wins or Romaleos, if you’re that deep into the squat-shoe weeds, but they’re not supposed to. They’re an inexpensive, travel-friendly way to make my favorite footwear more versatile, and my squats and complexes better. What else could I ask for?

Maxine’s Heavenly Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Recommended by Frieda Johnson, copy editor

Maxines Heavenly Chocolate Chip Cookies

When you have a lot of dietary restrictions, it can be difficult to find store-bought treats you can eat—especially baked goods. While I’m not opposed to baking my own (in fact I enjoy it), sometimes you just want the convenience of a ready-made bag of cookies.

Cue trumpets: Introducing Maxine’s Heavenly Cookies! They are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, preservative-free…They’re pretty much just made out of sunshine and rainbows. And oats. And chocolate. And they taste amazing! I can’t wait to try the peanut butter chocolate chunk and cinnamon oatmeal raisin flavors, too. Colorblock Pom Beanie

Recommended by Kailan Kalina, content editor ColorBlock Pom Beanie

When the weather is cold, my concerns about hat hair go out the window—and beanies are a must. Even if you live in warmer climates, the right beanie is worth wearing just for looks (or for Instagram). If you’re in the market for a fresh one this season, our beanie hits all the trends with colorblocking, the timeless B logo, and a beefy pom to top it off.

This is a one-size-fits-all hat for guys or gals, and the neutral colors will go with any of your gym or non-gym apparel. Stay warm out there!

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Euro zone trade surplus rises year-on-year in November despite slowdown

FILE PHOTO: Containers and cars are loaded on freight trains at the railroad shunting yard in Maschen near Hamburg September 23, 2012. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

January 15, 2021

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The euro zone’s trade surplus rose as expected in November despite a economic slowdown and falling trade turnover, mainly thanks to a better trade balance with Russia, Turkey, Norway, Japan and South Korea, data showed on Friday.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said the trade surplus of the 19 countries sharing the euro with the rest of the world was 25.8 billion euros in November, up from 20.2 billion a year earlier.

Though both exports and imports fell year-on-year, imports declined 4.2% while exports only 1.0%, Eurostat said.

The biggest changes in the trade balance in the January-November period were with energy exporter Russia, where the European Union’s trade deficit narrowed to 13.8 billion euros from 52.1 billion in the same period of 2019.

With Turkey, the EU swung to a 6.2 billion euro trade surplus in the first 11 months of 2020 from a 2.4 billion euro deficit the year before. The EU also improved its trade balances with South Korea, Japan, Norway, and India.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)

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Australian Grand Prix 2021 | New target date of November 21 set for Formula One event at Albert Park

Last year’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled at the last minute after Formula One teams and hundreds of staff had already arrived in Melbourne.

As the potential impact of COVID-19 on Australia started to emerge last March, the event was abandoned just before practice on the second day of the meeting with fans queuing up outside Albert Park to get in. Crew members from Maclaren had tested positive earlier in the week and that forced officials to take drastic action.

News of the new race date – the final event of the season is scheduled for Abu Dhabi in early December – comes on the same day as the Victorian government and health authorities publicly revealed the quarantine arrangements for a 1200-strong cohort of tennis players and officials about to arrive in Melbourne on chartered planes for this year’s delayed Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

The government has pointed out that quarantine arrangements will be central to the race going ahead on the rescheduled date.

“The operation of the four-day Grand Prix event at Albert Park will be subject to prevailing public health conditions and advice from the Chief Health Officer, with infection prevention and control at the centre of all decisions,” the media release said.

“Quarantine and other aspects of the Grand Prix will be considered in due course.”

Last week Victorian Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville conceded that the question of whether F1 personnel were “willing to quarantine” in Melbourne was central to negotiations.

Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said: “It is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix.

“The virus situation remains fluid, but we have the experience from last season with all our partners and promoters to adapt accordingly and safely in 2021.”

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Australian FI Grand Prix in Melbourne postponed until November because of coronavirus

The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix has been postponed until November, with race organisers saying the coronavirus pandemic meant “it is not feasible” to hold the race in March.

The race, held in Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit, will be contested on November 21, subject to World Motor Sport Council approval.

It is the second consecutive year the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix has been impacted by COVID-19, with last year’s race cancelled at the last minute in March because of coronavirus.

“The ongoing situation regarding COVID-19 has meant it is not feasible to begin the season in Melbourne,” Formula 1 said in a statement.

“But the good news is that the Australian Grand Prix will now take place from the 18th to the 21st November following an agreement between Formula 1 and the Australian authorities that shows the importance of the race in Australia to Formula 1 and our partners in Melbourne.”

Victorian Minister for Sport Martin Pakula said race organisers had made the right decision.

“The Australian Grand Prix is one of the great events in the world and we’ll make sure it can be run safely and successfully in November,” he said in a statement.

Motorsport Australia chief executive Eugene Arocca also backed the date change.

“While Melbourne could not open the season in March, having a new date confirmed is a terrific outcome for all parties involved,” he said.

“The decision to keep Australia on the calendar underlines how important our race is to the Formula 1 Championship.

“While fans are used to seeing the cars on track on the streets of Albert Park in March of each year, we now have the honour of hosting an event at the business end of the season where the championship fight could well and truly be decided.”

The 2020 Formula 1 season felt the impact of coronavirus.(AP: Frank Augstein)

The Australian Grand Prix has traditionally been the season-opening race of the Formula 1 season.

The change in timeslot means it will be the 21st of the season’s 23 races.

The 2021 season will now begin a week later than planned, with the Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled for March 28.

Formula 1 said ongoing travel restrictions meant the Chinese Grand Prix would not take place on its planned date of April 18, however discussions were being held to reschedule the race later in the season if possible.

Imola in Italy will return to the Formula 1 season in the slot previously designated for the China race.

A race has also been scheduled for May 2, with the venue to be confirmed by Formula 1 in “due course”.

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U.S. wholesale inventories revised up in November

FILE PHOTO: Warehouse workers deal with inventory stacked up to the ceiling at an ABT Electronics Facility in Glenview, Illinois, U.S. December 4, 2018. Picture taken December 4, 2018. REUTERS/Richa Naidu

January 8, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. wholesale inventories were unchanged in November instead of falling as initially estimated, the government said on Friday, supporting expectations that inventory investment was likely the main driver of economic growth in the fourth quarter.

The Commerce Department estimated last month that wholesale inventories dipped 0.1% in November. Stocks at wholesalers surged 1.3% in October. The component of wholesale inventories that goes into the calculation of gross domestic product fell 0.1% in November.

Inventories decreased 2.1% in November from a year earlier.

The economy is expected to have expanded at around a 5% annualized rate in the fourth quarter, with the bulk of the rise in gross domestic product seen coming from inventory investment.

Businesses are replenishing inventories after they were drawn down early in the pandemic. That has helped to underpin manufacturing. Inventory accumulation is expected to blunt some of the drag on GDP from a widening trade deficit, which hit a more than 14-year high in November.

The economy grew at a historic 33.4% pace in the third quarter after shrinking at a 31.4% rate in the April-June period, the deepest since the government started keeping records in 1947. Inventories added to GDP growth in the third quarter after being a drag for five straight quarters.

Wholesale stocks of motor vehicles and parts rebounded 0.8% in November after slipping 0.2% in October.

Sales at wholesalers rose 0.2% in November after accelerating 1.7% in October. At November’s sales pace it would take wholesalers 1.31 months to clear shelves, unchanged from October.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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US consumer credit up 4.4% in November, best in 5 months – Long Island Business News

U.S. consumer borrowing rose 4.4% in November, its strongest showing in five months, led by strong gains in auto and student loans that offset a drop in credit card borrowing.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that the rise represented an increase of $15.3 billion, the best showing since June. Borrowing had risen $4.5 billion in October.

Borrowing for autos and student loans increased by $16.1 billion, while borrowing in the category that includes credit cards fell by $786.7 million after a larger $5.5 billion drop in October.

The drop in credit card use was an indication consumers remain cautious about spending amid a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

Consumer borrowing is closely watched for indications of the willingness of households to take on more debt to support their spending, which accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, the first job losses since April and evidence that the economy is slowing as coronavirus cases surge.

The changes in borrowing left consumer credit at $4.18 trillion in November, up a modest 0.5% from a year ago.

The Fed’s monthly consumer credit report does not cover home mortgages or any loans secured by real estate, such as home equity loans.

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November trade deficit narrowest since June

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

The Philippine trade deficit dropped to its lowest level in five months in November, suggesting that trade could contribute to economic growth in the fourth quarter, though declining imports hinted at slowing domestic demand.

The trade deficit was $1.73 billion, lower than $1.79 billion in October and $3.65 billion in November last year.

The lower trade gap translated to $1.9 billion less demand for dollars to pay for imports, supporting the peso’s appreciation against the greenback in recent months, Michael L. Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said in an e-mail.

Coronavirus-related lockdowns cut the country’s net imports amid reduced business and economic activities, he pointed out.

“A further pickup and reopening of the local and global economies from lockdowns, a reduction in new COVID-19 cases, and further progress on the development and deployment of coronavirus vaccines could help improve economic recovery prospects,” Mr. Ricafort said.

Relaxed quarantines in Manila, the capital and nearby cities in the coming months could boost the economy further, he added.

Merchandise exports rose by 3% from a year earlier in November from a revised 1.2% decline in October and a 0.2% slide in November last year, according to preliminary data from the local statistics agency.

Export growth in November was the fastest in 10 months.

Merchandise imports shrank for the 19th straight month in November by 18.9% to $7.52 billion. This almost matched the 18.8% contraction in October and worse than the 4.5% decline in November last year.

The country’s external trade in goods fell by more than a tenth to $13.31 billion in November from a year earlier, bringing the 11-month level to $135.60 billion, which is a fifth lower than a year earlier.

For the 11 months to November, exports fell by 11.1% to $57.97 billion, better than the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) 16% estimate for 2020.

Year to date, imports reached $77.63 billion, a quarter lower than a year earlier and worse than the DBCC’s revised target of a 20% decline for the full year.

For the 11 months, the trade balance hit a deficit of $19.66 billion, lower than the $37.7-billion gap a year earlier.

Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank N.V. Manila Branch, traced export growth to strong outbound shipments to China and Taiwan as both countries bounced back from the COVID-19 fallout.

The trend of modest export gains and weak imports are likely to continue “for at least the first half of the year with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases likely to sap momentum from the recent pickup in global trade, leading to softer export growth,” he said in an e-mail.

“Domestic activity in the coming quarters will likely remain subdued, with the economy expected to remain in recession until 2Q 2021, which would translate to only a modest pickup in import demand,” Mr. Mapa said.

With imports expected to remain well below pre-pandemic levels and exports not seen to sustain their recent pickup in volume, the trade deficit should remain manageable, he said.

“The peso should enjoy modest appreciation pressure if the global weak US dollar theme plays out,” he added.

Electronic products remained the Philippines’ top export in November, with earnings of $3.53 billion, 4.6% higher than a year earlier. They accounted for 60.9% of total exports, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.

The US was the top export destination, receiving $956.8 million in exports or 16.5% of the total. It was followed by China ($923.65 million), Japan ($872.95 million), Hong Kong ($736.13 million) and Singapore ($313.89 million).

China was the Philippines’ biggest supplier of imported goods for the month, with a total value of $2.02 billion, or 26.8% of the total. It was followed by Japan ($734.35 million), the US ($554.40 million), Indonesia ($545.58 million) and South Korea ($528.88 million).

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Fed Chair Powell ramped up calls with Congress in November

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Banking Committee hearing on “The Quarterly CARES Act Report to Congress” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2020. Susan Walsh/Pool via REUTERS

January 8, 2021

(Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell spoke with U.S. lawmakers more frequently in November than at any time since the early summer, including a call with Republican Senator Pat Toomey on Nov. 11, a federal holiday, Powell’s calendar published on Friday shows.

Graphic: Who you gonna call?,

Powell’s calendars do not give any details on what was discussed during any of 14 chats with lawmakers. But Toomey was a vocal opponent of extending the Fed’s emergency lending facilities set up jointly with the Treasury Department early in the pandemic.

Powell had wanted to keep the programs open to backstop an increasingly weaker-looking recovery. But a week after Powell’s call with Toomey, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin abruptly pulled the plug on most of them and demanded the return of funds earmarked for their use.

In December, Toomey led a successful effort to insert language into the $900 billion coronavirus aid package to prevent the programs from being easily restarted under the incoming Biden Administration.

Powell also held more than a dozen other calls during the month with Democrat and Republican members of Congress, who were at loggerheads at the time over fiscal relief that Powell had for months argued was needed to bolster the economy.

The Fed chair has made outreach to senators and members of Congress a key aspect of his tenure.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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LI unemployment rate resumes decline in November – Long Island Business News

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Long Island’s unemployment rate last month was 5.4 percent, down from 6.5 percent in October.

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