North America

Low inflation, tight public spending and a reduction in the vast debts of loss-making state oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) have helped spruce up Mexico’s so-called risk profile, which reached its “safest” level in five years this month, Reuters reported. Risk premiums of investing in Mexico, as measured by traders in credit default swaps (CDS), hit their lowest level since November 2014 despite business and investor concerns about the economic management of the leftist government.

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Mexico’s central bank delivered its fourth quarter-point reduction in a row opting to continue the cautious pace of easing despite the economy having ground to a halt, the Financial Times reported. Banxico on Thursday lowered its key lending rate to 7.25 per cent as expected. Only one of the five board members voted for a half-point cut, the bank said in a statement. While the central bank had room for a bolder move, analysts said there were lingering concerns about core inflation and fears a surprise bigger cut could wipe out the peso’s recent gains.

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Lawyers for customers of an insolvent cryptocurrency exchange have asked police to exhume the body of the company’s founder, amid efforts to recover about $190 million (€170.5 million) in Bitcoin which were locked in an online black hole after his death. Miller Thomson LLP sent a letter to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Friday, requesting authorities “conduct an exhumation and postmortem autopsy” on the body of Gerald Cotten, founder of QuadrigaCX, citing what the firm called the “questionable circumstances” around his death earlier this year, The Irish Times reported.

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A jury in Montreal found a former SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. executive guilty of corruption-related charges in a case that examined the Montreal firm’s past activities in Libya, which were at the center of a political firestorm earlier this year, the New York Times reported. The Montreal-based engineering and construction firm now awaits its own trial on fraud and corruption charges.
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Mexican carrier Jaguar Transportation stopped its trucking services this morning (Dec. 10) and could be shutting down as part of Celadon's U.S. chapter 11 filing on Dec. 9, FreightWaves reported. Several freight and logistics professionals confirmed to FreightWaves that cross-border account representatives for Jaguar Transportation said that they had ceased services. At one of the company's locations, the news prompted drivers who feared they would not be paid to block access to scores of trucks and trailers.

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TransUnion Canada reported that delinquency rates are moving higher as the cost of living increases and servicing debt takes a bigger share of disposable income, Bloomberg News reported. The credit reporting firm said on Monday 5.54 percent of consumers were 90 or more days past due on at least one non-mortgage credit product in the third quarter, compared with 5.25 percent in the same period in 2018. The 29 basis point increase is the largest since 2012, and comes after several years of declining or little changed delinquency rates.
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Top officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States signed a fresh overhaul of a quarter-century-old trade pact yesterday that aims to improve enforcement of worker rights and hold down prices for biologic drugs by eliminating a patent provision, Reuters reported. The signing ceremony in Mexico City launched what may be the final approval effort for U.S. President Donald Trump’s three-year quest to revamp the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal he has blamed for the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs.
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A stalemate between the U.S. and other members of the World Trade Organization, including the European Union and China, stands to cripple the organization’s top court, threatening the global body’s survival, the Wall Street Journal reported. On Wednesday the court, called the Appellate Body, will no longer have enough judges to rule on big trade disputes between countries. At stake are international rules negotiated over five decades by the U.S. and Europe to boost global trade.
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Alberta may consider buying back some of its bonds in an effort to smooth its maturities as its debt outstanding rises, Bloomberg News reported. The buy-back strategy, including terms and amounts, is still under analysis, according to Jerrica Goodwin, an Edmonton-based spokeswoman at Alberta’s finance ministry said. The plan, which may start as soon as the next fiscal year beginning in April, won’t reduce overall debt outstanding but could allow Alberta to spread out maturities over the longer term, she said.

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Canada’s biggest banks are facing a storm of challenges, with a slowdown in consumer spending and a dearth of public listings pushing some big lenders to make hefty job cuts as their profitability falters, the Financial Times reported. The decision by Bank of Montreal (BMO), Canada’s fourth-largest bank, to slash its global workforce by 5 per cent highlights the growing problems facing the country’s financial services sector.

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