Jul. 31, 2020

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

  • Canada’s May crude-by-rail shipments fell to 58,048 barrels per day (vs peak of 412,000 bpd in February), the lowest in 4 years.
  • Shell Oil CEO says that “demand will take a long time to recover if it recovers at all”.
    • Shell also plans to announce a major restructuring by the end of the year.
  • Conoco Phillips expects to reverse its production cuts by the end of September.
  • RBC will buy 31,500 megawatt-hours/year (enough electricity for 2,600 homes) of solar power from BluEarth Renewables under the first contract of its kind for a Canadian financial firm.
    • 2 solar farms will be constructed in Alberta to provide the power. They are expected to generate 80,000 megawatt-hours annually and inject $70 million into Alberta’s economy.
  • Google is building a new subsea fibre cable, named Grace Hopper, linking the US, UK and Spain. This will be first new cable since 2003.
  • France is launching “railway highways” to carry food and other goods instead of transporting by truck as part of a push to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
  • Australia plans to export power from a USD$16 Billion solar farm in the north to Southeast Asia via undersea cable by 2027.

COVID-19 UPDATE

  • Royal Bank, TD Bank, ScotiaBank, Google and Apple have all delayed return to the office until early 2021.
  • Japan’s economy minister is urging business to aim for 70% telecommuting
  • 1 in 7 Canadian small to medium businesses are now at risk of closing permanently.
    • Alberta is at highest risk and could lose 20% of small to medium businesses.
  • COVID-19 appears to have circulated unnoticed in bats for decades.
  • The fastest supercomputer in the US is now working on the search for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
  • Psychological fatigue with social distancing is emerging as a major challenge in curbing the pandemic, especially among young adults who are less fearful of the virus.
  • Property managers are upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in buildings to try to reduce the potential spread of the virus through shared air.

TIDBITS

  • Canadian May GDP increased 4.5% vs expected 3.5% and decline of 11.7% in April.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated the Fed will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to support the US economy.
  • Government of Canada has extended 2019 tax payment deadline to September 30, 2020.
  • Q2 New condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area dropped to the lowest level since 2008.
  • President Trump announced new policies aimed at lowering prescription drug prices under Medicare by linking them to rates paid in other countries and by allowing Americans to buy medication imported from Canada
  • Q2 US homeownership rate was 67.9%, the highest since 2008.
    • Homeownership rate for buyers under 35 rose to 40.6%
    • Renter households fell 7.2%
  • Ford Motor has developed a dog shaped robot named “Fluffy” that can fetch pictures and videos of a car factory to help engineers design upgrades for workspaces.
    • Fluffy can travel up to 4.8 km/hour on its battery or it can ride on “Scouter” a small round robot to save power.
    • Cost of a similar robot is $74,500 vs $300,000 to have engineers physically do the same work