By Staff | August 9, 2006 | Last updated on August 9, 2006
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(August 9, 2006) RBC Financial Group announced today that its U.S. subsidiary, RBC Centura Banks, has signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire Atlanta, Georgia-based Flag Financial Corporation and Flag Bank.

The deal, valued at approximately $456 million, is subject to closing conditions, and regulatory and shareholder approval. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Flag Bank has 17 branches and 370 employees serving 22,000 households in metro Atlanta and central and western areas of Georgia. The bank has loans worth approximately $1.25 billion and a deposit balance of approximately $1.35 billion. RBC says Georgia and metro Atlanta are strategic to the subsidiary’s growth in the southeastern United States. Flag Bank branch offices will join a network of 30 RBC Centura banking centres already in Georgia, primarily in the Atlanta area.

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TSX Venture Exchange market cap jumps

(August 9, 2006) Although the TSX Venture Exchange added only 16 new issuers during the month of July, compared to 13 new issuers added in July 2005, the exchange’s market cap of listed equity issuers jumped 72.3% to $47.2 billion, from the $27.4 billion reported in July 2005.

Year-to-date statistics show the value of shares increased 145.6% to more than $21.2 billion, compared to $8.7 billion in July 2005. Volumes and transactions also jumped 97% and 109.3% during the month, compared to the same time last year.

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Western provinces drive housing numbers

(August 9, 2006) Scotiabank economists say Canadian housing starts were nearly unchanged in July, but say overall construction trends are firm with the average of the past two months, moving up only slightly from the April-May average. Although single-family home starts were actually down 3.5% in July, the number of permits issued suggests housing starts should rebound going forward. Construction of multiple-family homes rose for the third consecutive month, jumping 3.9% in July.

The bank says overall housing demand appears to be driven by growth in the west. British Columbia posted a 21.9% gain during the month, following a 14.8% increase reported in June. Ontario starts also rose 4.2% in July, following two months of gains. On a three-month annualized basis, Ontario starts are now up 25%, with solid overall job gains contributing to confidence. Other regions, however, notably Quebec and the Prairie provinces, posted declines of around 10% during the month. Atlantic Canada posted a somewhat milder decline of 2.2%.

On a year-over-year basis, though, total starts have fallen 4.8% Canada-wide, and residential construction is expected to detract from growth in the second quarter after adding 14% in Q1. Economists say they expect non-residential construction will remain firm.

Preliminary data released today by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggest total housing starts across the country decreased by 7% in July 2006 over July 2005. Single-detached starts dropped 4% while multiple starts decreased 10% compared to July 2005.

Quebec residential construction decreased 31% compared to numbers reported in July 2005. The multi-family housing segment registered the greatest decrease, dropping 40% compared to July 2005. Although more apartment buildings are being started in the province, the size of new housing projects is decreasing. Single-detached home construction also recorded a slowdown, dropping 18% during the month.

Offsetting Quebec’s weakness, Vancouver starts climbed 32% during the month with single-detached starts increasing 17% and multiple-unit construction projects rising 38%. Year-to-date, housing starts in the Vancouver area increased 19% compared to the same period last year. Single-detached starts climbed 28% while multiple starts rose 15% compared to the first seven months of 2005.

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(08/09/0 staff


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