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Canada’s Inflation Rate Slumps to Lowest in Two Years; Retail Sales Slip

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Canada’s inflation rate slumped to its lowest in more than two years in August, as tepid consumer prices added to the chorus of disappointing economic signs that have dogged the country for months.

Statistics Canada reported that the country’s consumer price index rose 0.1 per cent in August from July, but the year-over-year inflation rate slipped to 1.1 per cent, up from 1.3 per cent the previous month. The closely watched core inflation measure, which excludes the eight most volatile components of CPI (including many food and energy goods), was 1.8 per cent, its lowest reading since July 2014.

Economists had expected overall CPI inflation of 1.4 per cent, and a core reading of 2.0 per cent.

The Canadian dollar fell half a cent against its U.S. counterpart on the news, to about 76.2 cents (U.S.), as the inflation slowdown substantially reduces pressure on the Bank of Canada to consider raising interest rates any time soon.

“It is safe to say there was a complete absence of pricing pressures to worry about in the August inflation numbers. That lines up with the Bank of Canada’s recent shift to sounding a bit more worried about Canada’s economy, and hence the outlook for inflation,” said Toronto-Dominion Bank senior economist Leslie Preston in a research note.

The central bank uses a 2 per cent inflation target as the basis for setting its rate policy, relying particularly on the less volatile core measure to guide its assessment of underlying inflation pressures. Despite an uneven and often disappointing pace in the economy – punctuated by the second quarter’s decline in real gross domestic product of 1.6 per cent annualized – core inflation had been running above the 2 per cent target for the past five months. August’s downturn finally bore the scars of those economic stumbles.

In its most recent interest-rate decision, in early September, the Bank of Canada said inflation risks had “tilted tilted somewhat to the downside since July,” citing the sluggish Canadian and global economies and disappointing Canadian exports.

Much of the weakness in the August inflation numbers came from food, down 0.6 per cent from July, and gasoline, down 0.9 per cent.

The travel component fell 0.8 per cent month over month, as weak domestic economic conditions and the upswing in the Canadian dollar earlier in the year weighed on the tourism business.

The Bank of Canada has long expected Canada’s inflation pace to cool, as the effects of last year’s slump in the Canadian dollar fades from the CPI numbers. Nevertheless, economists noted that inflation in the services sector – which is largely domestically based and therefore little affected by currency movements – cooled to 1.8 per cent in August from 2.1 per cent in July, suggesting the sluggish domestic economy is also weighing on pricing.

Statscan reported Friday that Canada’s retail sales in July were down 0.1 per cent from June, well short of economists’ expectations of a gain of 0.1 per cent in the month. It was the third straight month without a gain, as May and June sales were flat. The decline was mainly due to lower gasoline prices, but the weakness was nevertheless fairly broad-based, with declines in five of 11 sectors.

On a volume basis, excluding the effects of price changes, retail sales rose 0.3 per cent in the month – an encouraging sign of firm demand. Nevertheless, the tepid retail numbers are another indication of an economy that isn’t firing on all cylinders.

“The overall message is one of a slow-motion machine for both Canadian growth and inflation,” said Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter.

He said the inflation downturn “is far from enough” to prompt the Bank of Canada to consider an interest-rate cut, but suggested that the pull-back in the core rate to below the central bank’s 2-per-cent target gives it a little bit of breathing room.

“The sag in core inflation does remove one potential obstacle if another nasty shock erupts and the BoC needs to respond.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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USAID/Power Africa Announces $2.6m in Healthcare Electrification Grants to Solar Energy Companies in Nine Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

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 Power Africa, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announces grants totaling $2,620,650 to solar energy companies to provide reliable, affordable off-grid electricity to nearly 300 healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nearly 60 percent of all healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, and of those that do, only 34 percent of hospitals and 28 percent of health clinics have reliable, 24-hour access.  Energy is critical for powering essential devices, medical and sterilization equipment, diagnostics, cold storage for vaccines and medication, information technology, and lights to enable the delivery of continuous health care services. Efficient health services and responses to diseases – including COVID-19 – depend on reliable access to electricity.

In support of the accelerated provision of off-grid solar energy to healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa, Power Africa is awarding grants to the following solar energy companies: 

  • Havenhill Synergy Ltd. (Nigeria)
  • KYA-Energy Group (Togo)
  • Muhanya Solar Ltd. (Zambia)
  • Nanoé (Madagascar)
  • OffGridBox (Rwanda)
  • OnePower (Lesotho)
  • PEG Solar (Ghana)
  • SolarWorks! (Mozambique)
  • Zuwa Energy (Malawi)

These companies will utilize Power Africa funding to provide off-grid solar electricity solutions to 288 healthcare facilities across the nine countries represented.

“Solar energy holds great potential to expand and improve health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa, and off-grid solar technology offers a clean, affordable, and smart solution to electrify healthcare facilities located beyond the reach of national electricity grids,” said Mark Carrato, Power Africa Acting Coordinator. “Power Africa’s experience shows that off-grid solar energy systems can be rapidly deployed to even the most rural facilities.”

“These awards demonstrate what we can accomplish when the public and private sectors join together to break down the barriers to reliable electricity for rural healthcare facilities,” said Chris Milligan, Counselor to USAID, on September 22, 2020 during a virtual event announcing the grant awardees.

ABOUT THE GRANTEES AND HOW THEY WILL POWER HEALTHCARE IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

Havenhill Synergy will electrify 21 rural healthcare facilities in Oyo State, Nigeria, using an energy-as-a-service business model. The facilities are mostly within peri-urban communities with limited reliable electricity access. Havenhill will provide long-term operation and maintenance of the solar energy systems.

KYA-Energy Group will electrify 20 health centers in Togo. In addition to electricity access, KYA will provide automated solar hand washing stations for infection prevention and solar phone charging stations for generating additional income.  

In partnership with the Churches Health Association of Zambia, Muhanya Solar Ltd. will provide electricity access to seven rural health facilities in Zambia. Muhanya will also electrify staff housing to generate revenue for the operation and maintenance of the solar systems installed at the health facilities. 

Nanoé will electrify 35 rural health facilities in the Ambanja and Ambilobe districts of Madagascar. The company will deploy nano-grids with the health facilities as anchors and connections running to staff housing. Electricity will be sold to the surrounding communities to generate income for the operation and maintenance of the nano-grids. 

With their containerized solution, OffGridBox will provide renewable energy and clean water to six rural clinics in Rwanda. The company will also set up a pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) business model, selling electricity and clean water to the surrounding communities.

OnePower will electrify seven rural health facilities in Lesotho, using the facilities as anchor loads for mini-grids. In addition to powering the health facilities, the mini-grids will provide electricity access for rural communities served by the facilities. 

PEG Solar will provide electricity access to 91 rural community healthcare facilities in Ghana. PEG will adopt a private sector approach to energy service delivery for public health facilities, enabling rapid electrification of the facilities while significantly reducing the upfront financial burden of transitioning to solar energy. 

SolarWorks! will electrify 92 rural healthcare facilities in Mozambique’s Sofala province. To ensure sustainability of the systems beyond the grant implementation period, SolarWorks! will cover operational and maintenance costs of the solar energy systems for five years.

Zuwa Energy will install solar energy solutions in nine health facilities in Malawi. Electricity access will enable the facilities to provide higher-quality health services throughout the day and more comprehensive services at night. Additionally, Zuwa will electrify staff housing with the aim to increase staff wellbeing and retention rates.

“Through these grants, USAID is investing in a set of pilot projects that demonstrate how healthcare electrification can be delivered in a commercially sustainable manner, with strong private sector involvement,” said David Stonehill, the Lead for Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative.  “These grants demonstrate the Power Africa model in action:  We use a modest amount of public funding to de-risk transactions, thus opening the door for private investment.”

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Market Cap of Five Largest Hotel Chains Decline by $25.2bn Amid Coronavirus Crisis

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World`s Five Largest Hotel Chains Lost $25.2bn in Market Cap Amid Coronavirus Crisis

The coronavirus outbreak has affected every sector across the globe, but the hotel industry is among the hardest hit. Although hotels implemented increased safety and sanitation measures and cautiously reopened for the summer travel season, recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take years.

According to data presented by Stock Apps, the combined market capitalization of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Choice Hotels International, Marriott International, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and Hilton Worldwide Holdings, as the five largest hotel chains in the world, hit $79.2bn in September, a $25.2bn plunge since the beginning of 2020.

Marriot International Witnessed the Biggest Market Cap Drop in 2020

To curb the spread of the virus, countries across the world have imposed lockdown rules, leading to thousands of canceled vacations, and closed hotels between March and May. Although many of them lifted off travel restrictions in the last three months, the first two quarters of the year produced colossal revenue and market cap drops to the largest hotel chains globally.

The market cap of Wyndham Worldwide, the biggest hotel chain in the world by the number of hotels, stood at $5.89bn in December, revealed the Yahoo Finance data. By the end of March, this figure dropped to $2.93bn. Although the second and third quarter of 2020 brought a recovery, the combined value of stocks of the U.S. corporation, which owns 8,092 hotels, stood at over $5bn in September, an $870 million plunge since the beginning of the year.

The second-largest hotel chain globally, Choice Hotels International, lost $440 million in market capitalization amid the coronavirus crisis. In December 2019, the total value of stocks of the company that owns 7,118 properties amounted to $5.76bn. During the last nine months, this figure dropped to $5.32bn.

However, statistics indicate that Marriot International, the third-largest hotel chain with 5,974 hotels in more than 110 countries, witnessed the most significant drop in market capitalization since the beginning of the year. In December, the combined value of stocks of the Washington-based corporation stood at $49.51bn. By the end of the second quarter, it halved to $24.25bn. Although the company’s market cap recovered to $33.86bn in September, this figure still represents a 31% plunge since the beginning of 2020.

Intercontinental and Hilton Lost $8.3bn in Total Stock Value

Intercontinental Hotels Group ranked as the fourth largest hotel chain globally, with 5,070 hotels across nearly 100 countries. Statistics indicate the market capitalization of the British multinational hospitality company amounted to $12.3bn in December 2019. After falling to $6.2bn in March, it rose to $9.7bn in September, a 21% plunge amid the coronavirus crisis.

The total value of Hilton Worldwide Holdings stocks, the fifth-largest chain of hotels globally, dropped by $5.66bn since the beginning of 2020. In December, the market cap of the hotel group that generated around $9.45bn in revenue last year stood at $30.94bn. After a sharp drop caused by the Black Monday crash, it recovered to $25.28bn in September. Nevertheless, the figure represents an 18% fall since the beginning of the year. Statistics show two hotel groups lost $8.3bn in combined market capitalization amid the coronavirus crisis.

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Premier League Brand Value Hit €8.5bn, Bigger than La Liga and Bundesliga Combined

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Brand Value: Premier League Worth €8.5bn, More than La Liga and Bundesliga Combined

The revenues of the big five European football leagues have soared in the last twenty years, reaching €17bn in the season 2018/2019. However, English Premier League convincingly tops the list of professional football competitions in Europe, both in terms of profit and brand value.

According to data presented by Safe Betting, Premier League hit €8.5bn in brand value in 2020, 19% more than La Liga and Bundesliga combined.

€1.5 bn Higher Revenue than Other Top Football Leagues

Besides leading in brand value, the Premier League also generates the highest revenue of all the European football leagues and has the highest operating profit. Although the coronavirus outbreak caused a massive financial hit to England’s top division teams, Premier League clubs are still expected to generate at least €1.5 bn more than their counterparts in Germany and Spain, revealed the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance 2020.

The reason for that is broadcasting rights. Statistics indicate the Premier League clubs are set to reach €2.4 bn in revenue from broadcasting rights this season. Commercial revenues are forecast to hit €1.7bn value in 2020, a €139 million increase year-on-year. Matchday profits follow with €614 million in revenue this season.

Manchester United tops the list of the professional football clubs in England, with over €1.3bn in brand value in 2020, revealed the Brand Finance Football 50 – 2020 survey. Statistics show the club generated €627 million in revenue last year, while its wage costs amounted to €352 million. The 2019 Global Sports Salaries Survey also revealed that Manchester United’s first-team players earned an average of €6.8 million last season, ranking as the second leading football club in Premier League and seventh globally.

Liverpool FC hit over €1.2bn brand value this year, the second-largest among all Premier League clubs. Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance 2020 showed the club generated €533 million in revenue in season 2019/2020, while its first-team members earned an average of €6.1 million last year. Liverpool also represents the second most-expensive football team globally, with €1.02bn in the combined market value of its 30 players.

Manchester City ranked as the third most valuable football brand in England, with over €1.1bn in brand value in 2020. However, statistics show the club, which generated €538 million in revenue last season, tops the list of the highest-priced football teams in 2020, with €1.04bn in the combined market value of its 31 players. In the 2019/2020 season, Manchester City had an average annual first-team member salary of €7.7 million, the highest among all Premier League clubs.

La Liga Has the Most Valuable Football Club Brands

Although La Liga ranked as the second leading European football league with almost €4bn in brand value in 2020, statistics show the two top Spanish clubs represent the most valuable football brands globally.

Real Madrid and FC Barcelona both hit over €1.4bn in brand value this year, accounting for 70% of the total brand value of the highest-leveled Spanish football league.

Statistics show the first-team players of Real Madrid, the world’s largest football brand, earned an average of €9.45 million this season. At the same time, their combined market value hit €930.3 million, ranking them as the fifth most-expensive football team in the world.

FC Barcelona, the second most valuable football brand in the world, tops the list of European football clubs with a €10.4 million average annual player salary in the season 2019/2020. The club’s players also represent the third most expensive football team globally, with €1bn in their combined market value. Moreover, the Spanish football giant hit a record revenue of €813.3 million in the season 2018/2019 and ranked as the biggest cash-generating football club for the first time.

With €3.2bn in brand value or 2.6 times less than Premier League, Bundesliga ranked as the third most valuable European football league. The leading German football club and the sixth globally, FC Bayern München, accounts for one-third of that figure, with over €1bn in brand value this year.

Italy’s Serie A and French Ligue 1 follow, with 1.8bn and 1.2bn in brand value, respectively.

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