By Staff | April 9, 2009 | Last updated on April 9, 2009
4 min read
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Canada shed another 61,000 jobs in March, all in full-time work, according to Statistics Canada. The decrease pushed the unemployment rate up 0.3 percentage points to 8.0%, the highest in seven years.

The speed at which employment has crumbled is much more severe than the unemployment rate suggests. Since peaking in October 2008, employment has fallen each month, with net losses totalling 357,000 (-2.1%) — the largest decline over a five-month period since the 1982 recession, StatsCan reports.

The losses are even more harsh for working men aged 25 to 54. Since October, employment has fallen by 3.1% for such so-called “core-aged” men, the largest five-month loss in 33 years.

Losses in March were widespread across a number of industries, most notably in manufacturing; finance, insurance, real estate and leasing; construction; and natural resources.

Ontario continues to take the lion’s share of job losses. The province shed another 11,000 jobs in March. Since October, the province has seen a 2.5% decrease in its employment rate, approximately 171,000 jobs. The unemployment rate in the province currently stands at 8.7%.

Employment in natural resources declined for a second month in a row, down 11,000 jobs in March, according to StatsCan. Most of these job losses were concentrated in Alberta, predominantly affecting the mining, oil and gas extraction sectors.

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CFA Institute opposes amendments to accounting rules

The CFA Institute, the governing body that administers the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, is not too happy about the proposed changes to market-to-market accounting standards.

The CFA Institute Centre for Financial Market Integrity argues the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) must pursue a comprehensive review of the complex financial instrument accounting rules announced by the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation (IASCF), and not follow a piecemeal agenda to reform accounting standards.

Nitin Mehta, the CFA Institute’s managing director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, warns the recent amendments to IAS 39 reclassification rules, and the political pressures that have led to the revision of FASB rules on fair value and impairments, are likely to result in “unintended consequences.”

“It is essential the IASB avoids engaging in an exercise to dilute standards to align with U.S. GAAP,” he says. “This crisis presents a window of opportunity for the IASB to improve the current financial instrument accounting in the interests of all its stakeholders. This can be judged a success if it improves the overall transparency of information available to investors, and if the IASB is able to operate independently to pursue this objective. The short-term focus should be on providing capital relief by amending capital adequacy rules and not by simply changing measurement rules.”

The CFA Institute Centre claims it has consistently held the position that investor interests must come first, and this can only be achieved through improved and transparent financial reporting. Commenting on the proposed amendments to fair value reporting by the U.S. FASB, the Centre says it expressed concern about how the new rules could obscure true economic performance. This would reduce investor confidence and constrain the ability of banks to raise private capital, thereby heightening systemic risk.

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U.S. consumer confidence rebounds: RBC

The decline in American consumer confidence appears to have hit bottom, for now. After seven months of declining confidence, enthusiasm was on the rise for April according to the most recent results of the RBC CASH (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household) Index.

It’s the CASH Index’s first significant improvement since September 2008. Overall, consumer confidence advanced 30.1 points, bringing the RBC CASH Index to 38.3 in April, compared to 8.2 in March.

The index got a huge shot in the arm by a 58.3 point increase in Americans’ expectations for the future. Americans’ attitudes about current conditions and investing also increased in the past month, but relentless job losses continued to worry them.

“The April readings provide more evidence of a stabilization in consumer spending,” says Larry Miller, managing director of RBC Capital Markets. “Stabilization does not mean recovery, but is a far better prospect than the free fall of late last year. Whether this translates into an improvement in consumer spending is another ball game, and one that is far too early to call.”

The RBC CASH Index is a monthly national survey of consumer attitudes on the current and future state of local economies, personal finance situations, savings and confidence to make large investments. The Index is composed of four sub-indices: RBC Current Conditions Index, RBC Expectations Index, RBC Investment Index and the RBC Jobs Index.

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Capital International merges funds

Capital International Asset Management (Canada), has received securityholder approval to merge its Capital International Global Small Cap fund into its Capital International Global Equity fund.

The securityholder approval was obtained at a special meeting held April 7, 2009, following previous regulatory approval as well as positive recommendation from the fund’s Independent Review Committee.

The merger is expected to be completed on or about April 20, 2009.

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BMO adds audio to banking machines

In an effort to increase the accessibility of automated banking for customers with vision loss, BMO is adding audio capability to all of its 2,000 automated banking machines (ABMs) across Canada.

To ensure security, customers can choose to display or not display the ABM transaction screen while the audio is in use. These audio ABMs will allow customers to hear voice instructions when conducting an ABM transaction using audio headphones and a keypad. Most standard headsets from portable music players can be used.

“Our customers who are affected by vision loss, and our elderly customers will have greater accessibility to banking services at every ABM across Canada,” says Sid Chopra, vice-president of Everyday Banking.

(04/09/09) staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.