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Wall Street surge lifts world stocks off 22-month low

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LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks bounced off a near two-year low on Thursday, lifted by a dramatic Wall Street surge, though a fall in Chinese industrial profits and renewed Italian banking worries offered a sobering reminder of the problems weighing on the world economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 1,000 points for the first time on Wednesday, leading a broad Wall Street rebound, after a report that holiday sales were the strongest in years helped mollify concerns about the health of the economy.

Stocks in Asia and Europe took their cue from this rally, and opened strongly, pushing the MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, 0.4 percent higher. The index had already spiked 2.3 percent in the previous session, rising off a 22-month low hit on Christmas Eve.

“The relentless selling which prevailed leading up to Christmas has mercifully halted as U.S. stock markets recorded significant gains,” said Stephen Innes, a trader at online FX broker OANDA.

He attributed the rally partly to a Mastercard Inc report that sales during the U.S. holiday shopping season rose the most in six years in 2018, helping allay concerns about the health of the U.S. economy.

“The surge in online purchases over the holiday season should be a reminder for the markets never to underestimate the purchasing power of the U.S. consumer,” Innes said.

There were also some attempts by the White House to temper its broadside against the Federal Reserve. Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on Wednesday that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s job was not in jeopardy.

However, the rally fizzled somewhat in Europe where shares opened higher 0.5 percent, then erased most of the early gains. France’s CAC index and Spain’s Ibex stood 0.3 percent higher while a pan-European stock index was flat, dragged lower by Italian stocks.

Milan was hit by renewed concerns over the country’s banking sector after lender Banca Carige was denied a cash call by its largest shareholder.

Pedestrians talk in front of an electronic board showing Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan December 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The news weighed on Italian government bonds too, curbing a month-long rally and pushing 10-year yields higher on the day.

Earlier, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6 percent and away from eight-week lows while Japan’s Nikkei managed to pull out of bear market territory, to closing 3.9 percent higher.

Australian shares jumped 1.9 percent.

But Chinese shares did not join the rebound, with mainland shares as well as Hong Kong down 0.4 percent. Earnings at China’s industrial firms dropped in November for the first time in nearly three years

OIL IS NOT WELL

The concerns over a faltering global economy and signs of a crude oil glut pressured oil prices, sending Brent futures 2.4 percent lower to $53.26 a barrel and partly reversing the previous day’s 8 percent jump.

Wednesday’s rise was triggered by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, agreeing to limit output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) starting in January.

U.S. Treasury yields too reversed direction after rising sharply on Wednesday, and dropped three basis points to 2.765 percent.

Another safe-haven, gold, was up 0.4 percent, remaining just below a six-month peak hit earlier this week.

A screen displays the Dow Jones Industrial Average after the close of trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

The dollar gave up some of its overnight gains, but losses were limited to around 0.3 percent against a basket of currencies. Against the yen, a perceived safe haven, it was off 0.5 percent at 110.82 yen.

It had risen nearly 1 percent overnight, booking its largest single-day gain against the yen since late April.

Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan; Editing by Toby Chopra

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Canadian Tire and NuPort Robotics to commercialize Canada’s first automated heavy duty trucks

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Canadian Tire Corporation and Toronto based start-up NuPort Robotics, Canada’s first autonomous trucking company, are partnering with the Ontario government to invest $3 million to undertake an automated heavy duty trucking project to test a “first-of-its-kind-in-the-world” technology. 

The breakthrough technology provides a transportation solution for the middle mile, the short-haul shuttle runs that semi-tractor trailers make between distribution centres, warehouses and terminals each day.

It is designed to enable next-generation automated trucks that are more fuel efficient, safer to operate, and provide an enhanced driver experience.

Backed by $1 million in support from the Ontario government through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network and matched by $1 million investments from Canadian Tire and NuPort Robotics, respectively, the two-year project is applying proprietary, artificial intelligence technology from NuPort Robotics to retrofit two conventional semi-tractor trailers – which will always be attended by a driver – with high-tech sensors and controls, a touchscreen navigation system, and other advanced features such as obstacle and collision avoidance.

Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, says: “Ontario is proud to be a global leader in automated and connected vehicle technology and this innovative project is an exciting milestone toward automated vehicle tech in the trucking industry.

“Ontarians rely on goods being delivered by trucks across the province every day and projects like this are demonstrating the ways that automated truck technology could help businesses meet delivery demands more efficiently while supporting a strong supply chain in Ontario.”

Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, says: “This project applies unique and made-in-Ontario Artificial Intelligence technology that offers increased safety and efficiency, with a reduced carbon footprint, to the goods supply chains on which we all rely.

“This is the latest example of how Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network acts as a catalyst, fostering partnerships between ambitious technology start-ups and industry to develop and commercialize next generation transportation technologies that strengthen our economy and benefit society.”

Raghavender Sahdev, CEO of NuPort Robotics, says: “The trucks are currently transporting goods between a Canadian Tire distribution centre in the Greater Toronto Area and nearby rail terminals within a 12.5 mile radius, and early results are promising.

“The aim of the project is to develop a system that incorporates an autopilot feature for conventional trucks with a driver, leading to the most efficient way to drive and increase safety.

“The sensors work as a ‘safety cocoon’ to cover blind spots and prevent accidents and the end result is peak fuel efficiency, meaning lower carbon emissions, and peak driving performance for an overall more optimal transportation experience.”

NuPort Robotic’s approach to autonomous trucking is unique in the industry because it focuses only on solving the middle mile challenge, using a known set of predetermined trucking routes that are repetitive and high frequency as opposed to general highway driving.

Ultimately, when implemented on fixed routes in the future, Canadian Tire will benefit from faster commercial deployments and improvements in supply chain sustainability.

Gary Fast, vice-president of transportation, Canadian Tire, says: “Canadian Tire embraces innovation and is always testing new technologies to improve our operational efficiency and safety.

“As proud Canadian companies, the safety of all stakeholders, including drivers, employees, customers, and public will be the top priority as we work together towards deployment of this technology.”

Cari Covent, vice president of intelligent automation, Canadian Tire, says: “Over the last three years, Canadian Tire has made a significant effort to solve complex business problems by using the Canadian start-up Artificial Intelligence ecosystem, and NuPort Robotics exemplifies what we look for in a start-up with a focus on innovation, automation and artificial intelligence.”

Sahdev says: “As NuPort Robotics continues to develop new technologies to overcome middle mile supply chain problems and advance autonomous trucking, I am extremely grateful for the support of the Ontario Government through AVIN and the Ontario Centre of Innovation.

“With their continued support, we are striving to position Canada as the leader in autonomous transportation.”

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Constellation Software is money in the bank, this fund manager says

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If you’re looking for a long-term hold in Canadian tech then Constellation Software (Constellation Software Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts, Financials TSX:CSU) should definitely be on your radar. So says Jason Del Vicario of Hillside Wealth Management who likes not only Constellation but its recent spin-off Topicus (Topicus Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts, Financials TSXV:TOI) which Del Vicario says could do even better than CSU over the next ten years.

Software consolidator Constellation has been running on the same game plan for years, buying small vertical market software companies providing so-called mission critical software solutions globally. Over the years CSU has completed over 500 such acquisitions, buying the top names in their respective niche verticals and then using its clout and breadth to grow the business and expand into new markets. The resulting cash flow is then plowed back into more acquisitions and the cycle repeats.

The strategy has worked wonders for Constellation, which has grown its revenue from $631 million in 2010 to almost $4 billion for 2020 while taking earnings from $4.12 per share in 2010 to $20.59 per share this past year.

Shareholders were given a special treat last month when Constellation spun out recently acquired Topicus, giving CSU owners about 1.9 Topicus shares for every Constellation share as a dividend-in-kind. Constellation bought Netherlands-based software company Total Specific Solutions BV (or TSS) in 2013 and that subsidiary recently acquired Topicus BV, a Dutch information service company focusing on sectors such as healthcare, education and finance.

Topicus was singled out by Constellation founder Mark Leonard for its ability to grow without using outside shareholder funding. Leonard said the spin-out was part of the intention since a purchase agreement was struck last year.

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Nuvei wins price target raise from National Bank

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Strong quarterly results and an even brighter outlook for 2021 are reasons to celebrate for Canadian payments company Nuvei (Nuvei Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts, Financials TSX:NVEI), according to National Bank Financial analyst Richard Tse. In an update to clients on Wednesday, Tse left his rating unchanged at “Outperform” while raising his price target from C$85.00 to C$100.00.

Montreal-headquartered Nuvei is a provider of payment technology solutions to merchants and partners around the world, with a platform geared for high-growth mobile commerce and e-commerce markets. Nuvei’s solutions include a fully integrated payments engine with global processing capabilities, a turnkey checkout solution and a suite of data-driven business intelligence and risk management tools and services.

The company released its fourth quarter and full year 2020 financials on Wednesday, showing Q4 revenue of $115.9 million, up 46 per cent year-over-year, and adjusted EBITDA of $51.3 million, up 61 per cent year-over-year. Total dollar value of transactions processed by merchants (‘total volume’) with Nuvei rose by 53 per cent to $13.9 billion. (All figures in US dollars except where noted otherwise.)

The 2020 year featured revenue up 53 per cent to $375.0 million and adjusted EBITDA up 87 per cent to $163.0 million, with total volume rising a full 76 per cent year-over-year to $43.2 billion.

“Our performance continues to be driven by strong momentum in the high-growth verticals we serve, as well as by our customizable, scalable and feature-rich technology platform which provides one of the industry’s most complete payment technology solutions going well beyond merchant acquiring,” said Philip Fayer, chairman and CEO, in a press release.

The company said the fourth quarter represented the strongest growth yet experienced by Nuvei, driven by wallet share expansion from current merchants along with accelerated uptake of new merchants. New e-commerce business almost tripled compared to a year earlier, Nuvei said, while the company expanded its connectivity coverage over the quarter, introduced new product innovations on its platform and continued to execute on M&A.

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