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The Wednesday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories

October 19, 2016 - 3:25 PM

Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, Oct. 19

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OIL PRICES REACH 15-MONTH HIGH: The price of oil and Toronto's main stock index both settled Wednesday at highs not seen in more than 15 months, buoyed by signs that Saudi Arabia foresees an end to the downturn in crude prices. December contracts for crude, which are the most heavily traded, soared $1.20 to US$51.82 per barrel. The last time oil futures contracts hit such levels was on July 14, 2015, when they settled at US$53.04 per barrel. The settlement price Wednesday was nearly double the lows seen earlier this year, when a barrel of crude settled at US$26.21 in mid-February. Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Khalid Al-Falih, spoke at a conference Wednesday in London, where he said the balance between supply and demand is improving.

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ENBRIDGE CUTS FIVE PER CENT OF WORKFORCE: Calgary-based Enbridge says it has cut about five per cent of its workforce following an organizational review launched in its first quarter. Canada's largest pipeline operator says that includes about 370 positions in Canada and about 160 in the U.S. The company says the review was launched well before it announced the $37-billion takeover of fellow pipeline operator Spectra Energy Corp last month. The Spectra deal isn't expected to close until 2017, but the company is hoping to achieve about half a billion dollars in annual efficiencies, which could include job cuts, if the deal goes through.

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CENTRAL BANK LOWERS OUTLOOK, CITES EXPORTS: The Bank of Canada has downgraded the country's growth outlook yet again with fresh projections Wednesday that see an impending drop in housing activity tied to new government rules and, more importantly, signs of a permanent decline in exports. The gloomier economic picture weighed heavily enough on the central bank's governing council for them to actively discuss lowering the trendsetting interest rate from its already-low perch of 0.5 per cent, governor Stephen Poloz said. But the bank ultimately kept the rate where it's been since July 2015, as analysts had widely expected.

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TRADE MINISTER MEETS WITH HEAD OF WALLONIA: Canada`s trade minister, Chrystia Freeland, has met with the head of Belgium's Wallonia region to try to save a trade deal with the European Union. The agreement — known as CETA — could collapse if the small region does not agree to support it by Friday. An official for Freeland says she met with President Paul Magnette, who says his region can't sign on to the deal by the deadline. The agreement needs to be unanimously approved by the EU.

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GROUP`S IMMIGRATION TARGET TOO AMBITIOUS: MINISTER _ A high-powered group of external advisers is calling for a dramatic increase in Canada's immigration levels, but Immigration Minister John McCallum says that might be too ambitious. McCallum said Wednesday he's read the report by the Advisory Council on Economic Growth that calls for a 50-per-cent increase in targets to 450,000 people a year. The measure would target skilled, entrepreneurial newcomers in an attempt to stimulate economic growth. The 14-member panel, chaired by Dominic Barton of the firm McKinsey and Co., is to deliver a set of recommendations to Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Thursday.

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TRUDEAU CALLS SASKATCHEWAN SUICIDES A TRAGEDY: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the recent rash of suicides in northern Saskatchewan is a tragedy. Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday, Trudeau said it's all too common for young indigenous people to take their own lives. "It's obviously a tremendous tragedy in Saskatchewan that happens all too often, too many young people losing their lives," Trudeau said. His comments came after a 10-year-old child committed suicide in Deschambault Lake, about 500 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. Two girls from Stanley Mission and one from La Ronge — all between the ages of 12 and 14 — also committed suicide earlier this month.

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ALBERTA`S NOTLEY PROMISES COAL PHASE-OUT PLAN: Premier Rachel Notley says Alberta will roll out this fall specifics of its plan to phase out coal-fired electricity and promote renewable energy. Notley made the comment in her annual state of the province speech. She says the program will include providing financial help to coal emitters to close their plants and transition to cleaner forms of power. There will also be details on how proponents will be able to bid into Alberta's market to replace the coal generation. Notley's government has promised to end coal-fired electricity generation by 2030.

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TRUMP ENTERED DEBATE FACING MONUMENTAL TASK: Donald Trump entered the final televised debate Wednesday facing the monumental task of turning around this presidential race, confronting the forces of history, electoral mathematics, and his deep personal unpopularity. The GOP nominee has been battered by recent revelations of his vulgar comments about women and a string of sexual assault allegations. Clinton's challenge in the last of three debates will be to both keep up her aggressive efforts to paint Trump as unfit to be president and start moving to ease America's deep divisions, which have only been exacerbated during the campaign. The latter is no easy task for the Democratic nominee, given the public's persistent questions about her honesty and trustworthiness.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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