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U.S. stocks pause after five-day rally; dollar rebounds

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street ended little changed on Friday, taking a breather following a five-day winning streak, while the dollar rebounded against most currencies from earlier losses tied to expectations the U.S. central bank is in no hurry to raise interest rates.

Earlier weakness in stocks and data showing a decline in U.S. consumer prices in December stoked investor appetite for Treasuries, pushing their yields lower.

Stocks have rallied this week, helped by promises of patience from the Federal Reserve, the ECB mulling more cheap money, and progress in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

“These risks seem more under control,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco in New York.

Earlier Friday, U.S. stocks retreated as investors booked profits and reset positions ahead of the earnings season.

The initial pause came in the wake of a strong start to 2019, which lifted the S&P 500 .SPX by more than 10 percent from a 20-month low it touched around Christmas.

With big U.S. banks kicking off the fourth-quarter reporting season next week, investors will comb through earnings reports and projections for signs of a slowdown in economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 5.97 points, or 0.02 percent, to 23,995.95, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.38 point, or 0.01 percent, to 2,596.26 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 14.59 points, or 0.21 percent, to 6,971.48.

For the week, the Dow rose 2.4 percent, the S&P 500 added 2.54 percent and the Nasdaq gained 3.45 percent.

The pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark was up 0.09 percent, bringing its weekly gain to 1.7 percent.MSCI’s all-country index .MIWD00000PUS, was flat at 473.26. It posted a weekly increase to 2.9 percent, which was its strongest such rise in six weeks.

Treasury yields fell on safe-haven buying spurred by stock losses and as data showed U.S. consumer prices fell for the first time in nine months in December.

“There’s a bit of profit-taking in stocks so that helped to rally Treasuries,” said Larry Milstein, head of U.S. government and agency trading at R.W. Pressprich & Co. in New York.

The yields on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes US10YT=RR fell 3 basis points at 2.702 percent, holding below a two-week peak reached earlier this week.

In currency markets, the dollar rose against the euro, boosted by technical factors after the euro hit key resistance levels.

The euro was down 0.32 percent against the dollar EUR= at $1.1463, marking a weekly gain of 0.6 percent.

China’s onshore yuan CNY=CFXS finished the domestic session at 6.7482 per dollar, up 1.8 percent this week in its biggest gain since July 2005 when Beijing abandoned the yuan’s peg to the dollar.

In commodities, oil prices declined, reducing their weekly gains tied to hopes that the United States and China may soon resolve their trade dispute.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Brent crude LCOc1 settled down $1.20 or 1.95 percent to $60.48 a barrel, ending the week with a 6 percent gain.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 settled $1 or 1.90 percent lower at $51.59 a barrel, resulting in a weekly gain of about 8 percent which was the largest increase since June.

Gold edged higher for a fourth straight week of gains on bets the Fed could soon stop raising interest rates, which boost the appeal of the non-yielding metal. Spot gold XAU= rose 0.09 percent to $1,287.5 per ounce.

Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Karen Brettell and Laila Kearney in NEW YORK; Noel Randewich in SAN FRANCISCO; and Swati Verma and Eileen Soreng in BENGALURU; Editing by Dan Grebler and James Dalgleish

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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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