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RIM shares get rocked once again, and the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke steps up to the microphone for the first time. BNN’s web editors take a look at the top stories of the week.
Out come the wolves
Analysts and market commentators laid into Research in Motion after the company lowered its profit outlook for the current quarter. The revision comes as the company’s smartphone sales disappoint and reviews of its much-anticipated tablet device, the PlayBook, were lukewarm. The legion of analysts who cover the company showed no sympathy. One said it was “time to cut bait” and the company has “some serious credibility issues.” Another analyst said its sees “continued execution issues, product delays, and lackluster product launches for the next year.” And Mike Abramsky of RBC Securities—typically bullish on the company—cut his Top Rating, saying, quite simply: “We were wrong.”
Ben Bernanke’s Open Mic performance
Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, took a historic step this week when he hosted a news conference after the central bank’s monetary policy meeting. Bernanke defended the Fed’s controversial bond-buying program—known on the Street as Quantitative Easing. He said the program was effective in providing “financial easing” and this would lead to better “economic conditions.” And much to the dismay of hawkish commentators, he said the Fed had no plans to cut short its purchases of bonds before the program was set to run out in June. His take on the U.S. economy wasn’t as positive, as he said the recovery was proceeding at a “moderate pace," a departure from earlier statements when he said the economy was on a "firmer footing."
Canadian and U.S. GDP gets the chills
The Canadian economy unexpectedly shrank 0.2 percent in February, marking what some economists predict will be a contraction. The GDP number presumably relieves pressure on Mark Carney and the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates. In the United States, figures released on Thursday showed GDP growth slowed to a 1.8-percent annual rate after a 3.1-percent fourth-quarter pace. That’s lower than the 2-percent rate economists forecast. The weak growth was blamed on bad weather and weak government spending.
Silver-tainted goggles may be dangerous
As investors question the health of the U.S. economy and inflation fears grow stronger, they’re plowing their money into the precious metals market. Both silver and gold were near record highs on Friday, as the greenback continues fall in value. But the rise in gold and silver is not without caution. A number of analysts have been telling BNN that the metals market, particularly silver, could be set for a correction. Analysts at UBS said in a research note the current run-up in silver prices is excessive and is being spurred on by investors instead of industrial demand.
Barrick dips into the copper market
The world’s largest gold miner told investors that it has eyes for another commodity: copper. Barrick agreed to buy Equinox Minerals for about $7.3 billion—outgunning China's Minmetals Resources and its hostile bid for Equinox’s portfolio of lucrative copper mines. The move will more than double Barrick’s position in copper. The commodity has risen more than sevenfold in the past eights years on the back of strong demand from emerging economies, particularly China. Equinox owns the Lumwana copper mine in the Zambian copper belt and the Jabal Sayid project in Saudi Arabia. But not all investors were happy with the deal, saying the company should continue to focus on what it knows best: gold.