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As Apple feels the pinch of China’s stumbling economy, experts fear Canada is next

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While Apple’s stunning announcement this week shook financial markets, its cause could shake the Canadian economy.

As one of the world’s biggest tech companies announced Wednesday it was lowering its profit estimates, Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested a slowing Chinese economy — resulting in lower iPhone sales — was largely to blame.

Trader Mark Muller works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. Stocks went into a steep slide Thursday after Apple sent a shudder through Wall Street with word that iPhone sales in China are falling.
Trader Mark Muller works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. Stocks went into a steep slide Thursday after Apple sent a shudder through Wall Street with word that iPhone sales in China are falling.  (Richard Drew / The Associated Press)

Stock markets around the world dropped Thursday on the news, with the TSX S&P Composite Index falling 134 points to close at 14,212. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped by roughly 3 per cent, wiping out billions of dollars of shareholder value. (The Dow fell 660 points to close at 22,686, and the Nasdaq fell 202 points to close at 6,463. Apple shares plunged almost 10 per cent, their worst drop since 2013, falling $15.73 (U.S.) to close at $142.19.

But the damage could extend far beyond falling share prices if Cook’s assertion is correct — that the Chinese economy is stumbling. Demand for Canadian commodities, including oil, lumber and soybeans, will be most directly hit, economists and trade experts agree. But there could be a much larger indirect effect, given China’s outsized impact on the global economy: China’s $12 trillion economy doesn’t need to slow down much to wreak havoc elsewhere.

“Even a small percentage in China is still a big number,” said Andreas Schott, assistant professor at the Ivey Business School at Western University. “We will feel pain. There’s no doubt about it.”

While there have been signs for almost a year that the Chinese economy is slowing down, it’s been exacerbated by a trade war between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, Schott argued. U.S. President Donald Trump’s ongoing public battle over trade with China is already hitting Canadian companies.

“The Trump administration is killing us. We are collateral damage,” said Schott. “The problem now compared to nine months ago when we first started hearing about a slowdown is that the tension has really risen.”

It’s not just direct Canadian exports to China that are hurting, said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Art Woo. Woo estimated roughly 4 per cent of Canadian exports end up in China.

“A slowdown in China could hurt U.S. growth, and that’s where the vast majority of our exports go. It would have a knock-on effect,” said Woo, adding roughly 75 per cent of Canada’s exports go to the U.S.

While the Chinese economy has already slowed down from the eye-popping double-digit growth rates seen a decade ago, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, Woo explained.

“When you’re completely changing your economy, and people are moving into the cities, and the economy is modernizing, you’re going to see a lot of productivity growth. That’s when you get an economy growing at 10, 11, 12 per cent a year. So a slowdown is to be expected. But the question is, does it go further than that?” said Woo, whose forecast calls for the Chinese economy to grow by 6.2 per cent in 2019, down from the 6.9 per cent growth seen in 2017, and what was likely a 6.5 per cent growth rate in 2018.

In some sectors, the pinch from China is already starting to be felt.

Since November, the price for softwood pulp — used to make products such as toilet paper, tissues and paper towels — has already plunged from $900 per ton, to $710, largely because of lower Chinese demand, according to industry watcher Kevin Mason.

“The price has fallen more quickly and deeper than anyone expected,” said Mason, managing director of B.C.-based Era Forest Products Research. That drop has come as Chinese companies run through existing supplies of pulp before, presumably, jumping back into the market, Mason said.

If those prices fall much more, though, Canadian jobs could be at risk.

“If it starts to hit the mid-500s, we could see companies start to take some production offline, to help try and drive the price back up,” said Mason, who estimated Canada ships almost $2.5 billion worth of pulp to China each year.

“China consumes almost a third of the world’s pulp, and Canada’s its biggest supplier.”

While a slowing economy hurts Chinese spending, there’s another factor when consumers there choose what to buy, Schott said: National pride. And with that, the trade war prompted by Trump isn’t helping obviously American products such as iPhones.

“If they can buy a phone that’s just as good, but is half the price and doesn’t support Voldemort, they will … The anger is very real.”

Josh Rubin is a Toronto-based business reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @starbeer

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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