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Stocks crash after UK vote to quit EU shocks investors


Financial traders react to the European Union (EU) referendum vote at ETX Capital in London, U.K., on June 24, 2016. GETTY IMAGES/Bloomberg/Jason Alden 
For the latest updates on the Brexit vote and market reaction, follow 680 NEWS business editors Mike Eppel and Richard Southern.

Stock markets crashed, oil prices tumbled and the pound fell to a 31-year low on Friday as Britain’s unprecedented vote to leave the European Union shocked investors and dragged the region, the world’s largest economic bloc, into a new era of uncertainty.

Investors rushed to dump European shares as soon as markets opened, following earlier drops in Asia, and Wall Street was set to fall sharply amid concerns about the economic consequences of the vote. The move could drain confidence among companies and business in Britain and the wider EU, which some fear could even face more defections.

Britain’s FTSE 100 plunged about 8 per cent but recovered slightly for a five per cent loss. The German index tanked 10 per cent, which would be its biggest one-day decline ever, and France’s index tumbled about 7 per cent. Wall Street was due to open sharply lower, with Dow and S&P 500 futures down 2.4 per cent and 3.2 per cent.

The pound hit its lowest level since 1985, diving as much as 11 per cent before recovering slightly to trade six per cent lower at $1.3917. Oil prices crashed, with the U.S. benchmark diving $1.95 to $48.16 a barrel. The Nikkei 225 plummeted about eight per cent, its biggest fall since 2008.

The result of the vote, which trickled in when Asian markets were trading, caught investors by surprise. Markets had rallied on Thursday on hopes for a “remain” vote and bookies had given such an outcome a high probability of success.

“You can see people are running for cover,” said Ken Courtis, chairman of Starfort Investment Holdings in Tokyo. Investors were betting on a victory for the “remain” side, but “what you’re seeing now in markets is an adjustment in the other direction, as everyone tries to get through a tiny door at the same time,” he said.

Britain’s decision to leave the EU launches what will be years of negotiations over trade, business and political links with the EU, which will shrink to a 27-nation bloc. Above all, it creates uncertainty, which is toxic to businesses looking to making investments or consumers looking to make purchases.

It could also threaten London’s position as one of the world’s pre-eminent financial centres as professionals could lose the right to work across the EU. The U.K. hosts more headquarters of non-EU firms than Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands put together.

Related stories:

Britain votes to leave EU: Cameron to resign, markets rocked

The Bank of England said it had made contingency plans for a “leave” vote and promised to take action to maintain stability. It noted that it has 250 billion pounds ($342 billion) in liquidity available for banks. “We are well prepared for this,” the bank’s governor, Mark Carney, said in a televised statement.

That seemed to help confidence somewhat, particularly in financial stocks, which were among the hardest hit. Shares in Barclays bank in London had tanked as much as 30 per cent before settling for a 14 per cent drop.

Banks have the most to lose in Britain’s departure from the EU as they do a lot of cross-border activity, which is facilitated in the EU, which has no borders, tariffs, or limits on the movement money and people.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 finished the wild day at 14,952.02 down 7.9 per cent while South Korea’s Kospi sank 3.1 per cent to 1,925.24, its biggest fall in four years. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index tumbled 4.4 per cent to 19,942.90 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 3.2 per cent to 5,113.20. Stocks in Shanghai, Taiwan, Sydney, Mumbai and Southeast Asian countries were sharply lower.

“Financial markets throughout the night have been chaotic to say the least,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda in London. “All eyes will now be on central banks around the world to see how they respond to these market developments, particularly the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan.”

In other currencies, the dollar fell to 102.98 yen from 104.80 yen while the euro weakened to $1.1123 from $1.1320.

Kirka reported from London. Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong also contributed to this report.

Britain votes to leave EU: Cameron to resign, markets rocked


A teller counts ballot papers at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, after polls closed in the EU referendum on June 23, 2016. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/PA/Liam McBurney

For the latest updates on the Brexit vote and market reaction, follow 680 NEWS business editors Mike Eppel and Richard Southern.

Britain voted to leave the European Union after a bitterly divisive referendum campaign, toppling the government Friday, sending global markets plunging and shattering the stability of a project in continental unity designed half a century ago to prevent World War III.

The decision launches a yearslong process to renegotiate trade, business and political links between the United Kingdom and what will become a 27-nation bloc, an unprecedented divorce that could take decades to complete.

“The dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,” said Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party. “Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day!”

Prime Minister David Cameron, who had led the campaign to keep Britain in the EU, said he would resign by October and left it to his successor to decide when to invoke Article 50, which triggers a departure from European Union.

“I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months,” he said, “but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers the country to its next destination.”

The electoral commission said 52 per cent of voters opted to leave the EU. Turnout was high: 72 per cent of the more than 46 million registered voters cast ballots.

Polls ahead of the vote had shown a close race, but the momentum had increasingly appeared to be on the “remain” side over the last week. The result shocked investors, and stock markets plummeted around the world, with key indexes dropping 10 per cent in Germany and about 8 per cent in Japan and Britain.

The euro fell against the dollar and the pound dropped to its lowest level since 1985, plunging more than 10 per cent from about $1.50 to $1.35 before a slight recovery, on concerns that severing ties with the single market will hurt the U.K. economy and undermine London’s position as a global financial centre. Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney sought to reassure the markets.

“We are well prepared for this,” Carney said. “The Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning. … We have taken all the necessary steps to prepare for today’s events.”

Related stories:

Stocks crash after UK vote to quit EU shocks investors

The U.K. would be the first major country to leave the EU, which was born from the ashes of World War II as European leaders sought to build links and avert future hostility. With no precedent, the impact on the single market of 500 million people – the world’s largest economy – is unclear.

Germany called top diplomats from the EU’s six founding nations to a meeting Saturday, and the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said the bloc will meet without Britain at a summit next week to assess its future. Tusk vowed not to let the vote derail the European project.

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” he said.

But already, far-right leaders in France and the Netherlands were calling for a similar anti-EU vote.

The referendum showed Britain to be a sharply divided nation: Strong pro-EU votes in the economic and cultural powerhouse of London and semi-autonomous Scotland were countered by sweeping anti-Establishment sentiment for an exit across the rest of England, from southern seaside towns to rust-belt former industrial powerhouses in the north.

“It’s a vindication of 1,000 years of British democracy,” commuter Jonathan Campbell James declared at the train station in Richmond, southwest London. “From Magna Carta all the way through to now we’ve had a slow evolution of democracy, and this vote has vindicated the maturity and depth of the democracy in our country.”

Others expressed anger and frustration. Olivia Sangster-Bullers, 24, called the result “absolutely disgusting.”

“Good luck to all of us, I say, especially those trying to build a future with our children,” she said.

Cameron called the referendum largely to silence voices to his right, then staked his reputation on keeping Britain in the EU. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is from the same party, was the most prominent supporter of the “leave” campaign and now becomes a leading contender to replace Cameron. The vote also dealt a blow to the main opposition Labour Party, which threw its weight behind the “remain” campaign.

“A lot of people’s grievances are coming out and we have got to start listening to them,” said deputy Labour Party leader John McDonnell.

Indeed, the vote constituted a rebellion against the political, economic and social Establishment. All manner of groups – CEOs, scientists, soldiers – had written open letters warning of the consequences of an exit. Farage called the result “a victory for ordinary people against the big banks, big business and big politics.”

After winning a majority in Parliament in the last election, Cameron negotiated a package of reforms that he said would protect Britain’s sovereignty and prevent EU migrants from moving to the U.K. to claim generous public benefits.

Critics charged that those reforms were hollow, leaving Britain at the mercy of bureaucrats in Brussels and doing nothing to stem the tide of European immigrants who have come to the U.K. since the EU expanded eastward in 2004. The “leave” campaign accuses the immigrants of taxing Britain’s housing market, public services and employment rolls.

Those concerns were magnified by the refugee crisis of the past year that saw more than 1 million people from the Middle East and Africa flood into the EU as the continent’s leaders struggled to come up with a unified response.

Cameron’s efforts to find a slogan to counter the “leave” campaign’s emotive “take back control” settled on “Brits don’t quit.” But the appeal to a Churchillian bulldog spirit and stoicism proved too little, too late.

The slaying of pro-Europe lawmaker Jo Cox a week before the vote brought a shocked pause to both campaigns and appeared to shift momentum away from the “leave” camp. While it isn’t clear whether her killer was influenced by the EU debate, her death aroused fears that the referendum had stirred demons it would be difficult to subdue.

The result triggers a new series of negotiations that is expected to last two years or more as Britain and the EU search for a way to separate economies that have become intertwined since the U.K. joined the bloc on Jan. 1, 1973. Until those talks are completed, Britain will remain a member of the EU.

Exiting the EU involves taking the unprecedented step of invoking Article 50 of the EU’s governing treaty. While Greenland left an earlier, more limited version of the bloc in 1985, no country has ever invoked Article 50, so there is no roadmap for how the process will work.

Authorities ranging from the International Monetary Fund to the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England have warned that a British exit will reverberate through a world economy that is only slowly recovering from the global economic crisis. The European Union is the world’s biggest economy and the U.K.’s most important trading partner, accounting for 45 per cent of exports and 53 per cent of imports.

In addition, the complex nature of Britain’s integration with the EU means that breaking up will be hard to do. The negotiations will go far beyond tariffs, including issues such as cross-border security, foreign policy co-operation and a common fisheries policy.

It will also affect the ability of professionals such as investment managers, accountants and lawyers to work in the EU, threatening London’s position as one of the world’s pre-eminent financial centres. The U.K. hosts more headquarters of non-EU firms than Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands put together.

“We believe this outcome has serious implications for the City and many of our clients’ businesses with exposure to the U.K. and the EU,” said Malcolm Sweeting, senior partner of law firm Clifford Chance. “We are working alongside our clients to help them as they anticipate, plan for and manage the challenges the coming political and trade negotiations will bring.”

Associated Press writers Raphael Satter and Frank Jordans in London and Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin contributed to this report.

Bowmanville Zoo will close down at the end of 2016 season

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jun 23rd, 2016

The Bowmanville Zoo is closing down at the end of the 2016 season because attendance is down “catastrophically” following charges being laid against the zoo’s owner earlier this year, a spokesman announced Thursday.

“Zoo attendance is down quite dramatically … catastrophically,” Angus Carroll said. “People are staying away in droves and we can’t afford to operate the zoo.”

Carroll estimates attendance is down 65 per cent since last summer. The zoo season traditionally runs until Thanksgiving.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) charged zoo owner Michael Hackenberger with four counts of causing an animal distress and one of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for an animal.

The OSPCA investigation was launched after video footage surfaced that appeared to show Hackenberger hitting a tiger with a whip during a training session. The video was circulated by the animal rights group PETA.

“The PR campaign being carried on by PETA is very effective,” Carroll said. “We’ve been run over by a bus.”

Related stories:

Owner of Bowmanville Zoo, charged with animal cruelty, back in court next month

Bowmanville Zoo director steps down after animal cruelty charges

New PETA video allegedly shows Bowmanville Zoo owner explaining tactics

Bowmanville Zoo owner refutes PETA video showing him whipping tiger

If Hackenberger is found guilty, he could face a maximum of a $60,000 fine, two years in jail and a lifetime prohibition from owning animals. But he says the backlash in social media and the press has persuaded customers to stop visiting the zoo.

“We feel this is a tragic example of being tried in the public court before being tried in the real court,” Carroll said.

Carroll said the zoo is already working on finding the animals at the zoo new homes, though he does not believe discussions have taken place with the Toronto Zoo.

“Not all of them can just be released,” he said. “We have already begun finding new homes for the animals. We believe we will find new homes for all the animals.”

Carroll says the zoo employs “dozens of staff” in maintenance, food services and animal care capacities who will lose their jobs. However, some keepers and trainers will continue to work as long as it takes to adopt out all the animals.

“Many are heartbroken, to say the least,” he said.

Carroll emphasized that closing the zoo means more children will never have the ability to see real animals.

“The digital world is great,” he said, “but it cannot replace the real world.”

More cameras necessary to improve traffic in Toronto: Tory

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jun 23rd, 2016

More cameras to monitor the flow of traffic are necessary to improve congestion in Toronto, Mayor John Tory said Thursday.

The cameras will allow for better timing of traffic lights, one of six pillars in Tory’s plan to improve traffic in the gridlocked city.

“There’s a huge and increasing amount of technology being deployed to get the city moving,” Tory said at Toronto’s traffic control centre, known as the Consolidated Communications Command Centre.

Better-timed traffic lights, which allow drivers to travel longer without stopping and also stay green when no opposing traffic is coming, are a “low-cost way to get traffic moving,” he added.

Tory said that while the city was trying to “provide options” for people to get out of their cars, “the bottom line is people still use cars,” and better traffic management would remain a focus for Toronto.

The six-point plan was first unveiled nearly two years ago, with Tory vowing to crack down on drivers parked in no-parking zones and to complete construction projects more quickly.

At the time, Tory said he would work with city staff to accelerate the traffic signal re-timing plan to have 350 signals, instead of 250, coordinated by 2015.

“This will allow traffic to move better. We will also move faster to test and pilot the new Smart Traffic Signal technology that can sense traffic flows and respond in real time,” he said in December of 2014.

Tory said Thursday that 337 traffic lights were re-timed in 2015, resulting in an eight per cent reduction in delays. This year, the city will change 350 more traffic signals, on 17 key routes.

It costs between $4,000 and $5,000 for each light.

By the end of 2017, approximately 1,500 traffic signals – about 60 per cent of the city’s traffic signals – will be retimed.

Bolthouse Farms protein drinks recalled over possible spoilage

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jun 23rd, 2016

Bolthouse Farms is recalling several types of protein shakes due to possible spoilage. CFIA

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall for Bolthouse Farms protein drinks because they may be spoiled.

The drinks may appear lumpy, taste unpleasant and have an “off” odour. Consumers should not consume the recalled products. The details are below:

Bolthouse Farms is recalling several types of protein shakes due to possible spoilage.
Bolthouse Farms is recalling several types of protein shakes due to possible spoilage.

Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

No illnesses have been reported.

Voters decide in Britain’s historic EU referendum


Voters in Britain are deciding Thursday whether the country should remain in the European Union – a historic vote that has exposed deep divisions over issues of sovereignty and national identity.

More than 46 million people are registered to vote in the referendum, which asks: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” The heated campaign saw the nation take stock of its place in the modern world, even as it questioned the direction it wanted to take in the future.

“This is, I’d say, the most important day in the past 20 years, at least for the U.K., and the economic consequences of a vote out are huge,” said investment banker Hasan Naqvi outside a London polling station.

“Leave” campaigners claim that only a British exit can restore power to Parliament and control immigration. The “remain” campaign led by Prime Minister David Cameron argues that Britain is safer and richer inside the 28-nation EU.

Financial markets have been volatile ahead of the vote, with opinion polls suggesting a tight race. The pound has surged over the week amid market optimism that uncertainty over the vote would end with a vote to stay. The pound briefly hit $1.48 in overnight trading, the highest level since the beginning of the year.

Turnout is considered critical in the vote, as polling suggested there were a number of undecided voters. A large turnout will favour the “remain” campaign as those who waver at the end tend to go for the status quo.

It was raining heavily in some parts of the country, which could reduce turnout. Downpours and flooding swamped parts of London and southeastern Britain. London’s Fire Brigade received hundreds of calls of weather-related incidents early Thursday, including some reports of flooding and lightning strikes.

Polls are open until 10 p.m. local time, with results due early Friday.

Woman spat on, has hijab pulled in London, Ont., supermarket

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jun 22nd, 2016

Police are looking for a woman after another woman was punched, spat on and had her hijab pulled in a London, Ont., supermarket.

Investigators say the alleged victim was shopping with her four-month-old son late Monday afternoon at the Superking Supermarket when they were approached by a woman who began yelling at them.

They say the unidentified woman then spat on the woman, and punched her several times.

Police say the assailant then grabbed the woman’s hijab and attempted to pull it off her head before pulling her hair.

They say the woman suffered minor injuries in the incident.

The suspect is five-feet five-inches tall, 30 to 40 years old, around 150 pounds, with long black hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was wearing a red “Canada” T-shirt and black pants.

Anyone with information is asked to call the London police at 519-661-5670 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Four new GO stations push SmartTrack plans forward

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jun 22nd, 2016

Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan is taking a step forward thanks to the construction of four new GO Train stations in Toronto’s west end.

The four new GO stations are being constructed are St. Clair West and Liberty Village on the Kitchener line and Bloor Street and Lansdowne Avenue, and Spadina Avenue and Front Street on the Barrie line.

Along with Ontario transportation minister Steven Del Duca and Ward 19 city councillor Mike Layton, Tory announced that the Liberty Village and St. Clair West GO stations will also run SmartTrack once the transit plan is implemented.

“With all-day, two-way service, stations here at Liberty Village and St. Clair West and Mount Dennis and Bloor (SmartTrack) will provide local service to the people of Toronto’s west end neighbourhoods,” the mayor said.

Calling it a ‘transit renaissance,’ Del Duca said the city is making tremendous transit progress right across the region.

“We are bearing witness to the largest infrastructure build in Ontario’s history,” he explained. “In every corner of this region, in every corner of this province, shovels are in the ground, building Ontario up and helping to secure a stronger future for generations to come.”

According to Tory, a study conducted by the University of Toronto’s transportation research institute earlier this year, found that SmartTrack has the potential to carry more than 300,000 people every day.

“Already with the UP Express, we’ve seen that Toronto residents will take this kind of a train when it is affordable and the people of Toronto want that choice and they want that convenience.”

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Coun. Michael Layton, who represents Liberty Village, said the transit expansion is great news for the roughly 20,000 people who go in and out of the area every day.

“This will connect Liberty Village like never before and all for this neighbourhood and around it to flourish,” Layton said.

Layton said that since inception, Liberty Village has not been well served for transit riders as well as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Currently two large GO corridors cut through the neighbourhood with one station providing limited service to the area but Layton said the cost is “prohibitive.”

“It’s only an eight minute ride from here to Union Station on the GO compared to 45 minutes on the streetcar,” said Layton. “But it’s just not worth that $5 premium.”

“I’m optimistic that with Presto and with an adjusted fare structure, like what is being proposed, we will help realize this truly integrated transit network in the west end of the city,” he continued.

The four new GO stations will be brought to the Metrolinx board of directors for approval at its next meeting on June 28.

Three fare options for SmartTrack will also be presented to Metrolinx at the meeting.

The first option would be to modify the existing model which would see passengers transferring from the TTC and the 905 at a reduced or no cost. As well, those transferring between TTC and GO Transit would do so at a reduced cost.

The second option would see the implementation of a zone-based system where commuters pay a fee based on how many zones they travel. A similar system is used in cities such as London and San Francisco.

The third option would be a hybrid system, combining both distance and flat-fare systems. This option would create a new regional system where customers on buses and streetcars pay a flat fee but those on subways, LRTs and GO Transit pay based on the distance travelled.

Tory is expected to make another announcement about SmartTrack in the city’s east end on Wednesday.

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