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Global shares nudge higher, Aussie dollar rebounds after slide

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LONDON (Reuters) – Global shares rose on Friday as signs of progress on trade offset a worsening economic outlook, while the Aussie dollar recouped some losses after China denied it had halted Australian coal imports.

A man looks on in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Earnings from companies drove big stock swings as European markets opened. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.1 and Germany’s DAX 0.2 percent.

Shares in Asia were buoyed by a late rally in Chinese shares, with the main blue-chip index of Chinese shares rising 2.2 percent.

Chinese shares had faltered earlier amid concern about slowing domestic growth and indications that China would cut its benchmark interest rate only as a last resort to boost the economy.

Japan’s Nikkei ended 0.2 percent lower after data showed core consumer inflation accelerated in January but remained far from the central bank’s 2 percent target.

Australian shares gained 0.5 percent and Seoul’s Kospi .KS11 ended up 0.1 percent.

The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was less than 0.1 percent higher on the day.

Trade talks and a growing number of policy U-turns by global central banks have propped up equities in recent weeks.

Trade talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators continued in Washington, with little more than a week left before a U.S.-imposed deadline expires, triggering higher tariffs.

Reuters reported on Wednesday the two sides were drafting language for six memoranda of understanding on proposed Chinese reforms, progress that had helped to lift investor sentiment.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday, the White House said.

“Given that enough headway seems to have been made to warrant a meeting between Trump and the Chinese negotiator today, it appears more likely that the U.S. will not raise the levies, which should help high-beta currencies and equities push higher,” said Konstantinos Anthis, head of research at ADSS.

However, U.S. data showed its economic outlook was growing cloudy. The. Commerce Department said on Thursday domestic orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft unexpectedly fell 0.7 percent in December.

AUSSIE REBOUND

The Australian dollar recovered after falling more than 1 percent on Thursday, when Reuters reported the Chinese port of Dalian had banned imports of Australian coal indefinitely.

China’s foreign ministry said on Friday coal imports continued but customs had stepped up inspections environment and safety checks on foreign cargoes.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe cautioned against seeing restrictions as being directed at Australia, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ban does not indicate a souring relationship between the countries.

Separate comments by Lowe that a rate increase may be appropriate next year also helped to boost the Aussie dollar. It was last up 0.35 percent at $0.71120.

Elsewhere, the euro was 0.1 percent higher at $1.1346, nearing a two-week high. German business morale fell for a sixth time in a row, to its lowest in over four years, a survey showed.

European Central Bank policymakers asked for swift preparations to give banks more long-term loans, minutes of its last meeting showed on Thursday.

The dollar index, which tracks the currency against six others, was down 0.1 percent at 96.549.

Italian government bond yields crept up on Friday, reflecting caution among investors before a Fitch ratings review.

U.S. crude oil rose 0.3 percent to $57.14 a barrel. Brent crude was up nearly 0.2 percent at $67.18.

Spot gold was trading up about 0.2 percent at $1,325.83 per ounce.

Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; editing by Larry King

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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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