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Wall Street roars back late to keep rally going

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(Reuters) – U.S. stocks roared back to end in positive territory on Thursday following steep losses for much of the session, as equities rebounded for a second day.

The failure of an initial selloff to gain more momentum lent credence to the idea that the extended bout of selling pressure may be coming to an end for now, investors said.

The gains come a day after the major indexes posted their biggest daily percentage increases in nearly a decade. The S&P 500’s two-day percentage gain of 5.9 percent is the best performance for the benchmark index since late August 2015 when the market was in the midst of a downturn over a slowing China.

Even so, all three major indexes remain down more than 9 percent for December. The S&P 500 is on track for its biggest annual percentage drop since 2008.

“The market is right now in a psychological frenzy, both good and bad,” said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors in New York. “There’s fear of the market going down; there’s fear of missing the rebound.”

Stocks were lower for most of Thursday’s session, and strategists said such a pullback was to be expected following the huge jump on Wednesday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,000 points for the first time.

Almost in unison, stocks across market sectors began rising around 2:30 p.m. ET, shortly after the S&P 500 briefly broke below 2,400, a level that has been repeatedly tested during the last several days of choppy trading.

From there the index surged 3.8 percent to close at its highest point in a week.

Even the clutch of technology and internet stocks that were the biggest drags through the first several hours of trading recovered most or all of their losses. Apple Inc (AAPL.O) gained 4 percent from its low and Amazon Inc (AMZN.O) shot up 5 percent; both finished the day about 0.6 percent lower.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 27, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), which had been among the biggest drags on the S&P 500, surged 4.8 percent to finish 0.6 percent higher on the session, ending up as the third-biggest boost to the index.

“I just think that the selling has been exhausted in the near term. When yesterday’s rally only retraced a portion this morning, buyers came back in at the end of the day,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, in New Vernon, New Jersey. “The general feeling is that a near-term bottom has been put in.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 260.37 points, or 1.14 percent, to 23,138.82, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 21.13 points, or 0.86 percent, to 2,488.83 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 25.14 points, or 0.38 percent, to 6,579.49.

All 11 major S&P 500 sectors finished in positive territory, with materials .SPLRCM as the biggest percentage gainers.

Investors also said the steep pullback in recent months, which has seen the Nasdaq confirm a bear market and the S&P 500 come within a whisker of doing so, may have created some bargains that are attracting buyers.

“Certainly there are folks that do recognize an opportunity, they stepped in, but then other people see it as a selling opportunity so that is kind of the back and forth,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

Trade tensions between the United States and China, an expected slowdown in U.S. corporate profit growth and the general health of the economy remain concerns for investors heading into 2019.

A measure of U.S. consumer confidence posted its sharpest decline in more than three years in December, deflating some optimism a day after a report that holiday sales were the strongest in years helped mollify concerns about the health of the economy.

“The consumer has been a big support for this economy and if all of a sudden the consumer starts to get a little bit anxious and spending slows down, that’s going to have an impact,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Boston.

Slideshow (3 Images)

About 9 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, just below the 9.2 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.20-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.03-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 7 new highs and 270 new lows.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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Ottawa education workers still teaching special-ed students at schools want safety checks

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Some Ottawa educators say they are concerned about the safety of classrooms that remain open in schools for special-education students.

Ontario elementary and secondary students have been sent home to study virtually because of the dangers posed by rising rates of COVID-19. However, special-education classes are still operating at many bricks-and-mortar schools.

The special-education classes include students with physical and developmental disabilities, autism and behaviour problems. Some don’t wear masks and require close physical care.

Two unions representing teachers and educational assistants at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board have sent letters to Ottawa Public Health expressing their concerns.

It’s urgent that public health officials inspect classrooms to assess the safety of the special-ed classes, said a letter from the Ottawa branch of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, which also represents the educational assistants who work with special-needs children.

“In the absence of reasons based on medical evidence to keep specialized systems classes open, we are unsure as to the safety of staff and students in these programs,” said the letter signed by president Stephanie Kirkey and other union executives.

The letter said staff agreed that students in specialized classes had difficulty with remote education and benefited most from in-person instruction.

“Our members care deeply about the students they work with and are not only concerned about their own health and safety, but also about that of their students, as they are often unable to abide by COVID safety protocols that include masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene, thus making it more likely that they could transmit the virus to one another,” the letter said.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has 1,286 elementary and secondary students in special-education classes attending in person at 87 schools, said spokesperson Darcy Knoll.

While final numbers were not available, Knoll said the board believed a large number of the special-education students were back in class on Friday at schools.

In-person classes for other elementary and secondary students are scheduled to resume Jan. 25.

The school boards provide PPE for educators in special-education classes as required, including surgical masks, face shields, gloves and gowns.

Several educators interviewed said they don’t understand why it has been deemed unsafe for students in mainstream classes to attend class, but not special-ed students.

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Ottawa sets record of 210 new COVID-19 cases following lag in data reporting

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Ottawa has now broken its daily record for new COVID-19 cases twice in 2021, with 210 new cases added on Friday amid a lag in data reports from earlier in the week.

The nation’s capital has now seen 10,960 cases of the novel coronavirus.

Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard reports 977 active cases of the virus in Ottawa, a jump of more than 100 over Thursday’s figures.

One additional person has died in relation to COVID-19 in Ottawa, raising the city’s death toll in the pandemic to 395.

The record-setting case count comes a day after Ottawa reported a relatively low increase of 68 cases. Ontario’s COVID-19 system had meanwhile reported 164 new cases on Thursday.

OPH said Thursday that due to a large number of case reports coming in late Wednesday, the local system did not account for a large portion of cases. The health unit said it expects the discrepancy to be filled in the subsequent days.

Taken together, Thursday and Friday’s reports add 278 cases to Ottawa’s total, a daily average of 139 cases.

The new single-day record surpasses a benchmark set this past Sunday, when the city recorded 184 new cases.

Ontario also reported a new record of 4,249 cases on Friday, with roughly 450 of those cases added due to a lag in reporting in Toronto.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 also continues to climb in Ottawa. OPH’s dashboard shows there are currently 24 people in hospital with COVID-19, seven of whom are in the intensive care unit.

Three new coronavirus outbreaks were added to OPH’s dashboard on Friday. One outbreak affects a local shelter where one resident has tested positive for the virus, while the other two are traced to workplaces and private settings in the community.

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Ottawa family dealing with mould issue in apartment grateful for support

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa family, who has been dealing with mould in their south Ottawa apartment, is grateful for the support they have received from the community.

“I would like to say big very mighty, big thank you to everyone,” says Nofisat Adeniyi.

Adeniyi lives with her three sons in a South Keys apartment. Her son Desmond turned to social media on Sunday to seek help for the family, saying they’ve been dealing with mould in their unit and it has taken too long to fix.

“I see my mom go through a struggle everyday; with three kids, it’s not easy,” says 16-year-old Desmond Adeniyi.

He setup a GoFundMe page to help the family raise money to move out. After gaining online attention and the story, which originally aired CTV News Ottawa on Tuesday, they have been able to raise over $30,000.

“Yes! I was surprised, a big surprise!” says Nofisat Adeniyi, “We are free from the mess that we’ve been going through.”

The family was so touched, they decided to pay it forward and donated $5,000 to another family in need, “A lady my son told me about,” says Nofisat Adeniyi.

The recipient wants to remain anonymous, but when she found out from Adeniyi, “She was crying, she has three kids; I remember when I was, I can feel what she’s feeling – because I was once in those shoes.”

CTV News Ottawa did reach out to the property management company for an update on the mould. In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesperson for COGIR Realty wrote:

“We respect the privacy of our residents and are unable to disclose any specific information regarding any of our residents. We can, however, let you know that we are working with the residents and are making every effort to resolve this matter as soon as possible,” said Cogir Real Estate

The giving did not stop at just cash donations. “When I saw the segment, the thing that struck me the most was how easily the situation can be resolved,” says mould removal expert Charlie Leduc with Mold Busters in Ottawa.

Leduc is not involved in the case, but appeared in the original story, and after seeing the mould on TV wanted to help.

“This isn’t something that we typically do, but given the circumstance and given the fact that this has gone on way too long, our company is willing to go in and do this work for free,” said Leduc.

The Adeniyi family may now have some options, and are grateful to the community for the support.

“Yes, It’s great news — you can see me smiling,” says Nofisat.

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