Five Canadian business stories to watch this week


No mortgage for you

As of Jan. 1, shopping for a mortgage will become more difficult thanks to new rules from Canada’s federal financial regulator. Put in place to help cool real estate markets in Vancouver and Toronto, potential borrowers will have to undergo a “stress test” to prove that they can withstand interest rates substantially higher than their contract rate. A Bank of Canada analysis suggests roughly 10 per cent of Canadians who secured an uninsured mortgage between mid-2016 and mid-2017 would not have qualified under the new standards.

Small business tax changes

The policy proposal that has likely caused Finance Minister Bill Morneau to question his entry into politics is about to go into effect. Effective Jan. 1, the 10.5 per cent federal small business tax rate will be reduced to 10 per cent. More controversially, Morneau is also moving forward on restricting “income sprinkling” by private corporations, a proposal that raised the ire of small business owners, doctors, lawyers and farmers – ultimately prompting Morneau to amend the proposal.

What’s next for Bitcoin?

Speculation on the world’s most popular cryptocurrency took a volatile turn recently when regulators in South Korea announced more measures to curb bitcoin trading, including a potential shutdown of exchanges. South Korea has become the third-largest market for Bitcoin and other digital currencies, prompting the government to warn that it “can’t leave the abnormal situation of speculation any longer.”

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When Bay St. goes to pot

Canada’s nascent cannabis industry experienced a volatile 2017, but the trend shifted decidedly upward for most pot stocks as the year came to a close. With names such as Canopy Growth Corp. and Aurora Cannabis Inc. establishing themselves as billion-dollar businesses without the help of institutional investors, it can’t be long before Bay Street decides to get in on the action and push valuations even higher.

A record year for auto sales?

We’ll find out next week whether or not 2017 was a record year for Canadian auto sales. As of Dec. 1, light vehicle sales for the year-to-date totalled 1.91 million in November compared with 1.82 million in the first 11 months of 2016. DesRosiers Automotive Consultants believes Canada is on track to top two million vehicles sold for the full year for the first time.

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