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Asia shares subdued after May’s Brexit vote defeat, pound steadies

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares took a breather on Wednesday after rallying the previous day on Chinese stimulus hopes, with investors assessing Brexit options after British lawmakers trounced Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal to withdraw Britain from the European Union.

FILE PHOTO: A man is reflected on an electronic board showing a graph analyzing recent change of Nikkei stock index outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

May’s crushing loss overnight triggered political upheaval that could lead to a disorderly exit from the European Union on March 29 or even to a reversal of the 2016 decision to leave.

Investors’ short-term focus is now on a confidence vote on May’s government by lawmakers later in the day..

Sterling GBP=D3 was last trading at $1.2841 on the dollar, off about 0.1 percent. It had rallied more than a cent from the day’s lows against the dollar with the sizable defeat for May seen forcing Britain to pursue different options.

“Elections tend to cause sell offs in markets because they’re inherently uncertain events but the UK situation is more complex than a normal vote,” said Stephanie Kelly, senior political economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments in Edinburgh.

“The margin of Theresa May’s defeat and the call of no confidence do matter for markets in the short term,” she said adding she expected sterling to be volatile until the result of the no-confidence vote is known.

May’s defeat put pressure on UK-focused exchange-traded funds. A Tokyo-traded FTSE 100 ETF (1389.T) was down about one percent on Wednesday.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was a touch lower, having swung up on Tuesday after Chinese officials came out in force to signal more measures to stabilize a slowing economy.

Australian shares rose 0.2 percent while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 lost 0.7 percent by midday.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen shares .CSI300 fell 0.1 percent on Wednesday.

Despite the small loss, it managed to hold on most of the previous session’s gains, when it rose nearly 2 percent.

China’s central bank on Wednesday made its biggest daily net cash injection via reverse repo operations on record — totaling $51.6 billion — in another sign of growing concern over risks facing the slowing economy.

In Tuesday’s session on Wall Street, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 1.1 percent as technology and internet stocks gained on Netflix Inc’s (NFLX.O) plans to raise fees for U.S. subscribers.

The S&P 500 communication services index .SPLRCL, which includes Netflix and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), jumped 1.7 percent, while the technology sector .SPLRCT tacked on 1.5 percent.

The China stimulus hints and dovish remarks by one of the U.S. central bank’s most hawkish policymakers also helped lift the U.S. market.

Ester George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and a voting member of the Fed’s policy-setting committee this year, made the case for patience and caution on interest rate hikes to avoid choking off growth.

SINO-U.S. TRADE TALKS

Sentiment was not helped by reported comments from United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that he did not see any progress made on structural issues during U.S. talks with China last week.

Investors “are mainly focused on the outcome of the U.S.-China trade negotiations, but it may take more than a month before it will become clear,” said Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

“It’s hard for market sentiment to turn one way or the other, whether a recovery or decline, as long as it remains unclear what outcome there will be.”

Lighthizer’s caution helped force the dollar to remain on the defensive against the Japanese yen, a safe-haven currency that’s often preferred by traders during times of market and economic stress.

The greenback lost 0.2 percent at 108.50 yen JPY=.

Elsewhere in the currency market, the euro EUR= lost 0.1 percent to $1.1405, extending its decline against the dollar for a fifth session.

The single currency has lost nearly 1.5 percent from a 12-week high hit on Jan. 10.

U.S. Treasuries steadied after a choppy overnight session. The yield on benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last stood at 2.711, a tad lower from 2.718 percent at the U.S. close on Tuesday.

In commodities, oil prices rose about 3 percent overnight supported by China’s promise of more stimulus. Worries over slowing China demand have been one of the key factors in the recent slide in oil.

International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were last off 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $60.57 a barrel.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 were down 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $51.99 a barrel.

Spot gold XAU= was 0.1 percent lower at $1,288.40, holding not far off a seven-month peak of $1,298.60 scaled on Jan. 4.

Editing by Shri Navaratnam & Kim Coghill

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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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