Video Marrakech Street Food

Rabat – National Geographic Adventure dedicated an episode of its program “Street Food Around The World” to explore the street food in Marrakech. “Amur n Kuch” as it is called in Amazigh language, meaning the city of God, the famous square, Djemaa el Fna, of the ochre city provides along with folklore activities various tasty meals cooked and served in the open air.The actor Ishai Golan took the audience in an amazing tour throughout the street food alleyway in Djemaa el Fna square, which is a high-touristic square in Marrakesh that draws more than a million visitors who come to attend the shows hosted by the snake charmers, monkey trainers, storytellers, musicians and other popular artists from early evening until the call for dawn prayer. Ishai Golden managed to taste most of Marrakech street food available in the giant food market in Marrakech in twenty-four hours.With the help of his  Moroccan friend Habiba, Ishai learned the basics of preparing the traditional Moroccan tagine, an authentic dish that “dates back to more than 200 years ago” read more

Read More →

Moroccan Man in Jellaba Dances to the Rhythm of Michael Jackson

Casablanca – Young Moroccan man takes to the streets of Casablanca with a special hidden talent that unexpectedly scared some and made others laugh.The Moroccan performer dressed in Jellaba underwent a rigorous makeup transformation to age his face and appear like an elder calmly walking the streets of the city.Passersby near him were pranked when he suddenly burst into dance moves straight from a Michael Jackson routine to the surprise, screams, and laughter of the many adults and children at the city’s park. The last thing locals in Casablanca were expecting that evening was to come across a typical-looking Moroccan “grandpa” who could pop and move to the beats of a trained dancer. read more

Read More →

Moroccan Dutch Man to Develop PrayerReminder Watch for Children

Rabat – Moroccan student Khairi Marhaben is attempting to raise $15,000 via the website Indigogo.com to develop a prayer-reminder watch for children called the “Baba Watch”. He is working directly with his nieces and nephews to create a prayer watch that easy to use, stylish, and compatible with 4GB USB.The device’s developer, a commercial economics student at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, has always wanted to create something that can truly help others. He intends to relieve Muslim parents of the burden of reminding their children to pray.He  highlights the benefits of helping children develop a pattern of praying, as childhood is an excellent period for individuals to cultivate good habits. Marhaben hopes this may even help children understand the broader importance of personal responsibility.Marhaben feels that his product will stand out in the prayer watch market. He finds many of these devices “too clunky and complicated” for children because they are designed for adults.  He also emphasizes that “the simplicity of his product will help it remain effective despite the constant distractions children face from the internet and other digital devices.”There are numerous smartphone applications for Muslims designed to remind users to pray and even the correct direction. Google Play and other app providers have many free applications with this exact purpose. However, Marhaben’s “kid approved” design will make this product more appealing to children, according to Marhaben.Marhaben will be using the website visiting ThunderClap to collect funds for his website from December 1, 2015 to January 1, 2016. read more

Read More →

King Mohammed VI Pardons Moroccan Woman Sentenced to Death

Rabat – Khadija Amrir, a 43-year-old woman was released from prison on the Morocco’s public holiday known as “Throne Day” after her sentence was commuted by King Mohammed VI.  She had received a death sentence for murder in 1995.While Amrir had been sentenced to death after being convicted of murder two decades ago, she received a royal pardon three times. The first pardon modified her sentence from death to a limited prison term.  The second further reduced her prison term to just two years, and the third resulted in her release on Monday.In a video posted by Moroccan news channel Medi1, Amrir took her astonishing steps into freedom with the presence of Mohammed Sebbar, the General Secretary of the National Council for Human Rights, and Salma Taoud, President of the Regional Commission for Human Rights Tangier, who personally expressed their solidarity with Amrir. The same video shows Amrir in front of the Local Prison of Tangier both smiling and in tears taking photographs with her supporters.In an interview with Hespress, Amerir said “I went to jail as a person and I now am getting out as the same person. I stayed strong and armed with patience and faith, until this moment, when no one can imagine what it means to me. I was sure that this day would come,” she added.  “I thank King Mohammed VI, who granted me a new life and I also thank the National Council for Human Rights’ [members] for all their efforts.”Amrir never lost hope during her period in prison. She managed to obtain a diploma from Tangier’s Theology Council for memorising the whole of the Quran. She also obtained a diploma in dressmaking and hairdressing, believing that life is full of opportunity even though she was stuck behind bars.Amrir could not wait to see her family members, including her 103-year-old father who has been on tenterhooks waiting for her.Amrir had a friendly relationship with the inmates and the prison officials who view her as a positive and strong person who was able to achieve many things even when in prison.Edited by Elisabeth Myres read more

Read More →

100 Moroccan Personalities Send Endorsement Letter to Nabila Mounib

Casablanca – 100 Moroccan figures addressed an open letter to the Secretary General of Unified Socialist Party (PSU), Nabila Mounib, in support of her inspiring democratic experience.Abdellah Hammoudi, an emeritus professor at Princeton University, leads the initiative. The letter was published on the Moroccan daily newspaper, Akhbar Al Yaoum, and held the signatures of many intellectual, media and art figures.The letter hailed Mounib’s proactive and novel presence in the national political scene, and describes it as “inspiring” for women and young Moroccans to participate in politics. The Unified Socialist Party, in alliance with the Federation of Democratic Left, will participate in the legislative elections on October 7.The open letter addressed to Mounib applauded the Federation of Democratic Left for balancing the configurations of power in the political scene in Morocco, and managing to retrieve the trust of Moroccans in the democratic process:“The Federation of Democratic Left represents a building block in an exhaustive political project, and a starting point of construction and reconstruction that leads to the emergence of a new political force that make the citizens, who deserted the polls in urban and rural areas, regain the confidence in the feasibility of the political work.”The letter also mentioned that the democratic transition in Morocco did not succeed because of “confusion between the political power and the economic focus, which imprisons initiative and production.”The open letter was signed by well-known figures in different areas, such as Fatima Al Ifriqi, Ahmed Assid, Ahmed Merzouki, Mohamed Madani, Najib Aksbi, and others. read more

Read More →

Moroccan Plastics Industry Companies to Explore Cote DIvoires Market

Abidjan – A dozen of Moroccan companies specialized in the plastics industry started Monday a working visit to Abidjan to explore investment and partnership opportunities in Cote d’Ivoire’s market. This four-day “B to B” professional mission is jointly initiated by the Moroccan center for exports promotion “Maroc Export” and the Moroccan Federation of Plastics Industry (FMP).According to Maroc Export, the mission is meant to strengthen and develop partnership in the plastics industry, through the organization of professional meetings between participating companies and importers/ distributors from Cote d’Ivoire. It also aims to highlight the potential of the Moroccan companies in order to boost trade between the two countries in this sector.In Morocco, plastics and packaging industry is the second largest sector in the transformation of chemicals, Maroc Export said, adding that the plastics industry is represented by nearly 650 companies and generates 45,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs. read more

Read More →

Moroccan Banking Insurance Companies Present in 32 African Countries

Casablanca – The presence of Moroccan banking and insurance companies in Africa has experienced considerable growth since King Mohammed VI’s ascension to the throne.There are 32 countries in Africa where popular Moroccan banks and insurance companies have made their presence known, and this is a great news for the Morocco’s international economy.The first banks to move to other parts of Africa, reports Le360, did so in the 80s, namely the Banque Popular in Central Africa and Guinea. During his reign, King Mohammed VI has encouraged the internationalization of banks and insurance companies, knowing the positive impact this would have.At this time, Morocco’s three major banks, Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Centrale Popular and BMCE Bank of Africa, are all committed to growing their presence in Africa, contributing to bettering relations between Morocco and other African countries.Morocco also has 45 subsidiary banks on the continent, thanks to the development of Attijariwafa’s CBAO, Banque Populaire’s Banque Atlantique and BMCE’s Bank of Africa. These subsidiaries are present in all regions except Southern Africa — countries like Senegal, Cameroon, Niger and Burkina Faso, reports Le360.Having banks and subsidiaries in Africa means more Moroccan investment in the content but also more support for Moroccan companies wishing to expand their horizons into Africa.Insurance groups are also expanding into the content. Sahar Assurance, for example, is present in 23 countries since 2010. Wafa Assurance and RMA Watanya are also on their way to growing their presence.Overall, the expansion of insurance and banking companies into the African continent is a win-win situation, both for the foreign country hosting the Moroccan entity and for Morocco itself. read more

Read More →

Sweethearts candies wont be on shelves this Valentines

DETROIT — Sweethearts — those chalky little candies with messages on them — won’t be on store shelves this Valentine’s Day.The New England Confectionary Co. — or Necco — had been making the popular candies since 1886. But the company filed for bankruptcy protection last spring.Ohio-based Spangler Candy Co. bought Necco in May. But Spangler said Thursday that it didn’t have time to bring Sweethearts to market this Valentine’s season.CEO Kirk Vashaw said Spangler wants to make sure Sweethearts “meet customer expectations” when they return to market. He didn’t say what changes Spangler plans to make or when they’ll go back on sale.Competitors like Brach’s are still making conversation hearts. But online retailer CandyStore.com says Sweethearts were by far the most popular brand, commanding 80 per cent of U.S. market for candy hearts.The Associated Press read more

Read More →

Moroccans Express Disappointment with Lions AdidasMade Kits

Rabat – Moroccan critics are tearing apart the Moroccan national team’s Adidas World Cup kits, following their release on Friday.The kits are white, with accents red and green, representing the Moroccan flag and the symbol of the Royal Football Federation (FRMF).The much-awaited jerseys have received a great deal of online criticism from unimpressed Moroccans. Some Moroccan social media users have pledged to boycott Adidas, drawing from the Moroccan-made product boycott in protest of the exorbitant prices of Sidi Ali (bottled water), Afriquia (gasoline) and Centrale Laitière (dairy products).#??????? ??????— BiShA ?????? (@mdbisha90) April 27, 2018Fans have also criticized the delay Adidas announced to release the Atlas Lions’ jerseys.On March 27, Moroccan newspaper Al Massae reported that Moroccan football officials and Adidas’s executive committee agreed to delay the official release of the Atlas Lions’ World Cup jersey to avoid forgery.Citing Adidas’s concerns, Al Massae added that there might be “counterfeit duplication of the kits” if uncovered before the opening of the Russia FIFA tournament.????? ??? ??? ???????? ? #??????? #????_???? https://t.co/D5eAkSO23D— amazighiya?? (@gata067) April 27, 2018“UGLY .. it took them forever to release it and the result is this !!! such a disappointment,” one Facebook user wrote.“So this is the design they spent like forever to come up with?” wrote another.“Are you sure this is not a pajama?” read more

Read More →

Moroccan Immigrant Heroically Rescues Italian Doctor

Rabat – On Tuesday, December 4, in the Italian city of Crotone, Luigi Amoruso, 50, attacked and stabbed 56-year-old doctor Maria Carmela Calindro in front of the San Giovanni di Dio Hospital because he believed she was responsible for the death of this mother. Fortunately, a nearby street vendor disarmed and disabled the aggressor, according to Italian news agency Ansa. The hero was later identified as Mustafa El Aoudi, a Moroccan immigrant and father of three who lives on the outskirts of Crotone.A two-minute video shows police arriving at the scene and Mustafa El Aoudi giving his statements. Read Also: Moroccans among Highest Numbers of Legal Immigrants to France for Jobs“I heard the doctor scream and then I approached. I noticed that the man hit her with a screwdriver with the aim to kill her. I came closer and threw him down, then he ran away and I chased him to the trash can. I tripped him and he fell. At that point I disabled and held him until the police arrived,” El Aoudi said.Police and the doctor’s colleague praised his heroic actions. Mustafa El Aoudi modestly responded saying, “I did what everyone would do.” According to Ansa, the incident was the second serious attack on a doctor practicing at the civil hospital in Crotone over a four month period. read more

Read More →

Cogeco selling cloud services company Cogeco Peer 1 for 720 million

Companies in this story: (TSX:CCA) MONTREAL — Cogeco Communications Inc. has signed a deal to sell Cogeco Peer 1 Inc., its cloud services company, to investment firm Digital Colony for $720 million.The company says it plans to use the proceeds from the sale to repay debt and repurchase shares.Shares in Cogeco were up about seven per cent or $5.31 at $80.36 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange following the announcement.Cogeco acquired Peer 1 Hosting in 2013.The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including certain regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the third quarter.Cogeco Peer 1 is expected to remain based in Toronto and adopt a new brand. The Canadian Press read more

Read More →

Surge in gorilla killings in DR Congo sparks concern from UN official

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sounded the alarm today over the fate of mountain gorillas living in a national park in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after another four were found slaughtered late last month.Seven gorillas have now been shot and killed this year, more than during the conflict that wracked Africa’s Great Lakes region in the late 1990s, prompting UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura to call on Congolese authorities to introduce urgent measures to try to end the killings.He also announced that a joint mission involving the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) will head to the DRC later this month to investigate why there has been a surge in gorilla killings.In the most recent attack, probably on the night of 22 July, four gorillas – one “silverback” male and three females – were killed near Bukima. Two other gorillas, a female and her young, are now missing.“The disappearance of these gorillas represents not only a tragedy for the preservation of the species, but also the loss of an important source of revenue for local communities,” Mr. Matsuura said in a press release issued from UNESCO headquarters in Paris.The killings this year have been concentrated in the southern part of the Virunga National Park, which is close to the border with Uganda and Rwanda.Virunga was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 for its outstanding natural habitats, but the gorilla killings have led the World Heritage Committee to inscribe the park on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 1 August 2007The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sounded the alarm today over the fate of mountain gorillas living in a national park in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after another four were found slaughtered late last month. read more

Read More →

UN agency concerned over forced returns of asylumseekers from central Iraq

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today expressed its concern that some European nations have recently been forcibly returning asylum-seekers from central Iraq – which has witnessed serious human rights violations and continuing insecurity.Agency guidelines issued last April noted that asylum-seekers from Iraq’s central governorates should be considered to be in need of international protection.“UNHCR therefore advises against involuntary returns to Iraq of persons originating from Central Iraq until there is a substantial improvement in the security and human rights situation in the country,” spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters.Earlier this month, the United Kingdom tried to forcibly send 44 Iraqi men to Baghdad, but upon arrival in Iraq’s capital, authorities only accepted 10 of them, while the rest were sent back to the UK and placed in immigration centres.Other European countries have signed re-admissions agreements with Iraq for both voluntary and forced returns.Denmark has forcibly returned 38 people – mainly from central and southern Iraq – since signing the agreement in May, while Sweden, another signatory, has sent 250 people back. “UNHCR has also concerns about the safety and dignity of these returns,” Mr. Mahecic said.The agency recommended that the protection needs of asylum-seekers from the three northern governorates and from the southern governorates and Al Anbar be assessed on an individual basis.According to a report released yesterday by UNHCR, Iraqis head the list of the growing number of people seeking asylum in industrialized countries again this year, just ahead of people searching for safety from war-torn Afghanistan and Somalia.Some 185,000 asylum-seekers filed applications in the first six months of 2009 across 38 European countries, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea (ROK), representing a 10 per cent increase on the same period last year.The report showed that 13,200 claims came from Iraqis, making it the top country of origin for the fourth successive year, 12,000 came from Afghans and 11,000 from Somalis, as security conditions continued to deteriorate in large parts of those countries. 23 October 2009The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today expressed its concern that some European nations have recently been forcibly returning asylum-seekers from central Iraq – which has witnessed serious human rights violations and continuing insecurity. read more

Read More →

Republic of Korea can serve as example to help other countries prosper

20 July 2011The Republic of Korea should draw from its own experience of poverty and suffering to help other countries achieve sustainable development, good government and prosperity, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says. In remarks delivered to the Korea Society in New York last night, the Secretary-General, a native of ROK, said, “Often when I travel around the world, Korea is held up as a model – especially in Africa.“We, too, we Koreans knew hunger and poverty. We, too, struggled for freedom and genuine freedom and participation in democracy. With help from good friends – the United States and the United Nations – we succeeded,” he said. “Today, Korea has a special obligation – [a] moral and political obligation – to help poorer nations realize their own so-called ‘Korean dream’… a dream of development, good government, human rights, peace and prosperity.”Noting the recent visit of the ROK President Lee Myung-bak to Africa and the country’s adoption of some development initiatives at the latest G20 summit, Mr. Ban said: “That is why I have welcomed Korean support for Africa. That is why I and many others look to Korea for leadership on sustainable development – the UN’s number one priority in the years ahead.” read more

Read More →

Amid deadlock in UN disarmament forum Ban suggests way forward

27 July 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the world’s sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum remains deadlocked and suggested ways to break the stalemate, including the appointment of a panel of eminent persons, the creation of an ad hoc committee of the General Assembly or a United Nations conference. “We meet in the midst of a growing crisis of confidence,” said Mr. Ban, addressing the General Assembly’s follow-up gathering on last year’s high-level meeting on the Conference on Disarmament and Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations.“For too long the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery, in particular the Conference on Disarmament (CD), has failed us,” he said.Established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, the CD primarily focuses on cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war, and prevention of an arms race in outer space, among other things.“If differences persist, we could consider the appointment of a high-level panel of eminent persons, as I have suggested. Alternatively, States could conduct negotiations in an ad hoc committee of the General Assembly or a UN conference,” said the Secretary-General.He stressed that the international community must never abandon multilateralism, saying that in addressing disarmament, the goal is not to advance the preferences of the few, but the common interests of all.“If the CD remains deadlocked, the General Assembly has a responsibility to step in. As I have said before, the CD should not be held perpetually hostage by one or two members. Concerns should be addressed through negotiations.“The world expects progress. Let us defer no longer. Let us put an end to this long cycle of stagnation,” he added.General Assembly President Joseph Deiss called for greater political will to break the deadlock in the CD.“It is important that we try to break the current deadlock and to keep an integrated approach to disarmament and non-proliferation,” said Mr. Deiss.The General Assembly meeting in New York coincided with the 23rd UN Conference on Disarmament Issues in Matsumoto, Japan, where the head of the UN nuclear agency stressed that all States must comply with their obligations under the international nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty.He named Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Syria as countries that are not in full compliance.“My approach to nuclear verification since taking up office in December 2009 has been very straightforward – all safeguards agreements between Member States and the Agency, and other relevant obligations such as UN Security Council resolutions, should be implemented fully,” said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” Mr. Amano said in his keynote address to the three-day conference.He urged Iran to move towards the full implementation of all relevant obligations to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.“The nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains a matter of serious concern,” said Mr. Amano. “As you may know, since April 2009 the agency has not been able to implement any safeguards measures in that country.“Last year’s reports about the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility and a light water reactor in the DPRK are deeply troubling,” he told the conference, hosted by the Japanese Government, the city of Matsumoto and UN Office for Disarmament Affairs through its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.He called upon the DPRK to fully implement all of the relevant resolutions of the IAEA General Conference and the Security Council.On Syria, Mr. Amano stated that the IAEA had come to the to the conclusion that it is “very likely” that a building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site in 2007 was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the agency.“Following my latest report on this subject, the IAEA Board of Governors last month adopted a resolution finding Syria to be in non-compliance with its safeguards obligations. I continue to engage with Syria to resolve related outstanding issues,” he added.Mr. Amano said IAEA continues to support the creation of new nuclear weapons-free zones and to help in their implementation. He said he was consulting with IAEA Member States on the possibility of convening a forum on the relevance of existing nuclear weapon-free zones and to consider establishing such a zone in the Middle East.He said IAEA was also committed to making nuclear techniques available in areas such as health care and nutrition, food security, the environment and water resource management.“I made the issue of cancer in developing countries a high priority for my first year in office because I wanted to ensure that these countries derive maximum benefit from the IAEA’s expertise in nuclear medicine and radiotherapy,” he said. This year, the agency has placed special emphasis on nuclear techniques for water resources management, he added. read more

Read More →

South Sudan UN relief chief stresses vast scale of humanitarian needs

1 February 2012The United Nations relief chief today underlined the enormity of the humanitarian challenges facing South Sudan on the first day of her three-day visit to the fledgling country, highlighting the needs of returnees, an influx of refugees, internal displacement as a result of ethnic conflict and endemic poverty. “South Sudan faces significant challenges, including hundreds of thousands of people displaced in 2011, people returning from Sudan and refugees from the ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.“In addition, conflict, poverty, and increasing food insecurity are having a major humanitarian impact. The people of South Sudan need our support,” said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, when she met with met with representatives from aid agencies in Juba, the capital.South Sudan seceded from Sudan last July, becoming an independent country following a referendum where the overwhelming majority voted for self-determination, six years after a landmark peace agreement ended decades of civil war.A relatively small number of aid organizations are dealing with about 30 simultaneous emergency operations in the vast and remote country prone to inter-ethnic conflict and insecurity. Aid workers briefed Ms. Amos on their efforts to distribute aid in Jonglei state, the scene of inter-communal clashes in late December and early last month.“I am concerned about the scope and magnitude of the violence communities have inflicted on each other in Jonglei, as well as about the conflict between rebel militias and the army that has killed, wounded and displaced so many,” said Ms. Amos.“Diversity in South Sudan should be a source of both communal and national pride. I hope that everyone in South Sudan will embrace their identity as South Sudanese, and achieve long-term reconciliation and peace,” she added.She will tomorrow travel to Jonglei to see the ongoing aid operation and meet with Government officials, relief workers and those affected by the recent violence. On Friday, Ms. Amos is scheduled to meet with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and other senior officials.Meanwhile, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has reported that it facilitated and accompanied a Government mission to the Bulich area of Tonj East county in Warrap state, which confirmed that 78 people were killed and 68 others were wounded during an attack by an armed group from neighbouring Unity state on Monday.Nine people are missing and thousands are reported to have been displaced, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson told reporters in New York. The UNMISS team saw 15 bodies that had not been buried.Humanitarian agencies plan to call an emergency meeting to organize a coordinated response to the needs of those affected by the violence in Warrap, while the UNMISS human rights division will investigate the incident. read more

Read More →

Closing Bell TSX Wall Street rally as investors find reason for confidence

TORONTO — Traders showed they still had some optimism for the economy as stocks moved higher Wednesday in the first trading session since the U.S. Congress agreed on measures to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”Here are the closing numbersTSX — 12,540.77 +107.24 +0.86%S&P 500 — 1,462.42 +36.23 +2.54%Dow — 13,412.55 +308.41 +2.54%Nasdaq — 3,112.26 +92.75 +3.07%The S&P/TSX composite index closed 107.24 points higher at 12,540.77, while the TSX Venture Exchange was ahead 18.54 points at 1,239.84.The Canadian dollar rose 0.99 of a cent to 101.50 cents US.On Wall Street, the cliff aversion triggered a rally with the Dow Jones industrials jumping 308.41 points to 13,412.55.The Nasdaq rose 92.75 points to 3,112.26 and the S&P 500 index gained 36.23 points to 1,462.42.The budget deal, reached just before midnight Tuesday, left several issues unresolved and it was unclear how long markets would be lifted by the agreement.“The last couple of weeks people were starting to worry whether or not this thing would even get done, and the fact that we did avert the fiscal cliff has put people in a good mood and a buying mood,” said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer of Sun Life Global Investments.But Adatia said the positive momentum of traders will likely be tested in the coming sessions.“I don’t think this rally will be long lasting, but it does help the start of the year.”The bill that Congress approved calls for higher taxes on incomes over US$400,000 for individuals and US$450,000 for couples, a victory for President Barack Obama. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6%, up from 35%. It also delays for two months $109 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts that were set to kick in this week.Though fiscal cliff fears have eased, investors still have a host of issues to worry about — not least the prospect of more debates over unresolved longer-term U.S. budget issues.The next major debate will involve what is known as the debt ceiling — which is essentially how much the government is allowed to borrow. President Obama has said he will not negotiate the issue.In commodities, oil prices rose with the February contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange ahead $1.30 to US$93.12 a barrel.The TSX gold sector was higher as the March bullion contract moved ahead $13 to US$1,688.80 an ounce. Copper prices for the March contract were up 8.4 cents to US$3.74 a pound.Metals and mining stocks were the biggest gainer, rising 3.8%. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) was up $1.35 to $37.50.Shares in Petrobank Energy and Resources Ltd. (TSX:PBG) fell 91% in the first trading day since the company completed a major reorganization.The company, now referred to as New Petrobank, announced on Monday it had completed the spinoff of its 57% stake in PetroBakken Energy Ltd. (TSX:PBN), a light oil-focused company. Its stock closed at $1.17, a drop of $11.23.BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) shares fell 23 cents to $11.57 as reports surfaced that Apple may be testing its next iPhone model and operating system with a mid-year release target.Here’s the news investors were watching today: Why the fiscal cliff relief rally won’t last‘Grim’ data reveals eurozone factory slump is getting worseSix reasons 2013 is already looking up for investors: David RosenbergHow Warren Buffett beat the S&P 500 in 2012ON DECK THURSDAYECONOMIC NEWSUNITED STATES7:30 a.m.Challenger Layoff Report 8:15 a.m.ADP National Employment Report (Dec): Economists expect 140,000 new jobs 8:30 a.m.Weekly jobless claims: Economists expect 360,000 new claims 2 p.m.U.S. Fed’s FOMC minutes from December meeting CORPORATE NEWSUNITED STATESFamily Dollar Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 67¢ a share read more

Read More →

BCE Astral fire back at opponents of takeover plan

MONTREAL — BCE Inc. and Astral Media Inc. have fired back at critics of the plan for Astral to sell the bulk of its assets to BCE.In response to interventions filed with the CRTC, the companies say the biggest opponents to the deal are the “large vertically integrated corporations” cable and telecom companies that compete directly with Bell.Bell and Astral dismissed concerns that the takeover would will hurt access to content and pointed to long-term distribution and affiliation agreements it already has in place with its competitors.The broadcast regulator will hold hearings in May to consider Bell’s revised application to buy Astral, after it agreed to sell some of its television assets to make the deal more acceptableThe Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission killed the deal last fall, saying it wasn’t in the best interests of Canadians.Cogeco said if the deal is approved, it would still give an already dominant BCE too large a share of the broadcasting market. Last year, Cogeco formed a coalition with Quebecor Inc. and cable company Eastlink to block the deal.“A primary focus for Bell Media is growth in Quebec and the French-language media marketplace,” said Kevin Crull, president of Bell Media.“Even after the sale of half of Astral’s French-language specialty TV services, Bell Media would increase its viewing share in this market to 22.6% — still less than the 31% viewing share enjoyed by Quebecor, but a significant enhancement to market competition nevertheless.”The Canadian Press read more

Read More →

RBC predicts big bounceback for the Canadian economy in 2014

OTTAWA — Royal Bank says the Canadian economy is primed for a big bounce-back year in 2014.One of Canada’s biggest banks says in a new forecast that the economy is due for a 2.6% expansion next year, following two sub-par years of 1.7% growth.RBC’s call is significantly above the consensus among economists and the Bank of Canada, who also see the economy moving toward above-potential growth next year but at a more modest 2.3 or 2.4% clip.Two other forecasting houses also came out Thursday with consensus-like projections.IHS Global Insight expects Canada’s gross domestic product to advance by 2.4% in 2014, while the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is pencilling in a 2.3% gain.All three cite similar reasons for the improvement — renewed strength in the United States resulting in increased demand for Canadian exports, which the past two years have been the weak link in the Canadian economy.RBC is also relatively optimistic about the strength of the Canadian domestic economy.The bank’s analysts don’t believe, as some others do, that the Canadian housing market will suffer a setback in 2014, reasoning that rising incomes and improving household finances will support housing and consumer spending. read more

Read More →

Target liquidation sales could start Thursday retailer seeks court approval

TORONTO — Liquidation sales at Target’s Canadian stores could begin as early as Thursday.Target Canada will seek court approval Wednesday to allow a group of liquidation companies to start to sell off the contents of its Canadian stores.The U.S.-based retailer announced last month that it will be closing all 133 of its Canadian stores and laying off more than 17,000 staff, just two years after its highly anticipated launch north of the border.The company took over old Zellers stores and opened in Canada in March 2013, but failed to deliver on customer expectations.Shoppers found higher prices than in the U.S. and nearly bare shelves due to problems with the distribution chain.In explaining the decision to close its Canadian stores, chief executive Brian Cornell said he didn’t expect Target Canada to reach profitability until at least 2021.Target Canada has been granted court protection from creditors and is now in the process of winding down its operations.In addition to its remaining inventory, the furniture and equipment will also be sold during the liquidation sale.Court files specify the liquidation companies are not to advertise the sales as “bankruptcy” or “going out of business” sales.The Canadian PressHow Target’s grand reveal of store locations contributed to its demise in CanadaPride took down a giant: How Target’s corporate hubris was its Canadian undoing read more

Read More →