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Asian shares meander following gains on upbeat trade talk

Shares were mixed in Asia on Wednesday, trading in a narrow range after overnight gains following conciliatory comments on trade by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi's pledge to cut tariffs on imported cars and improve intellectual property protection was seen as a step toward easing trade tensions.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.2 per cent to 21,750.92 and the Kospi in South Korea was flat at 2,450.82. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 0.8 per cent to 30,960.72 and the Shanghai Composite index surged 0.9 per cent to 3,219.07. Australia's S&P ASX 200 dipped 0.3 per cent to 5,340.70. Shares rose in Taiwan and in most Southeast Asian markets.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 | 12:41 AM

Hardly 'friends': Zuckerberg fends off senators on privacy

WASHINGTON - Under fire for the worst privacy debacle in his company's history, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg batted away often-aggressive questioning Tuesday from lawmakers who accused him of failing to protect the personal information of millions of Americans from Russians intent on upsetting the U.S. election.

During some five hours of Senate questioning, Zuckerberg apologized several times for Facebook failures, disclosed that his company was "working with" special counsel Robert Mueller in the federal probe of Russian election interference and said it was working hard to change its own operations after the harvesting of users' private data by a data-mining company affiliated with Donald Trump's campaign.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 10:41 PM

Horgan says Alberta legislation to raise gas prices in B.C. 'provocative'

VICTORIA - Premier John Horgan says he's concerned and surprised that Alberta's latest move in an escalating pipeline feud is legislation that could drive up British Columbia's already sky-high gas prices.

Alberta's New Democrat government served notice Tuesday of plans to introduce legislation that Premier Rachel Notley has said will give the province the power to reduce oil flows and likely prompt a spike in gas prices in B.C.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 08:59 PM

Television ratings down for NCAA finals on cable TV

NEW YORK - Villanova's comfortable victory over Michigan in the NCAA men's basketball final may have been good for the blood pressure of the team's fans, but it wasn't good for television ratings.

The game was seen by 16 million viewers on TBS, TNT and Tru TV last week, the Nielsen company said. That's down sharply from the 23 million who saw North Carolina beat Gonzaga in the 2017 finals. The 30 per cent drop is likely due to a combination of a relatively non-competitive game and its airing on a cable network instead of CBS, which showed last year's game.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 07:21 PM

Tim Hortons franchisee group cites 'intimidation' by parent company RBI

TORONTO - A group representing about half of Canada's Tim Hortons franchisees has vowed to do everything in its power to assist an outspoken member whose restaurant licence renewal was denied amid ongoing tensions with the fast food giant.

In a letter sent to franchisees on Monday, the Great White North Franchisee Association board said it is "appalled" that Mark Kuziora, who owns two Toronto Tim Hortons franchises, was allegedly told by Tim Hortons parent company Restaurants Brands International in early April that he would be denied a renewal for one of the restaurants at the end of August.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 06:08 PM

Used cars, energy-efficient appliances more expensive under Sask. Party budget

REGINA - Buying a used car or energy-efficient appliance in Saskatchewan will get a little more expensive under Premier Scott Moe's first budget as the government continues to chip away at the deficit.

The Sask. Party's budget tabled Tuesday broadened the provincial sales tax for the second straight year, broke an income-tax promise and kept a tight lid on spending all in an effort to balance the books by next year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 06:05 PM

China wants no 'progressive' elements in any free trade deal with Canada: envoy

OTTAWA - China's ambassador has firmly rejected a key pillar of the Trudeau government's trade agenda, branding its attempts to entrench labour standards in a free trade pact as a non-starter for his country.

Ambassador Lu Shaye said Tuesday that Canada's "so-called" progressive trade agenda has no place in the free trade agreement the two countries have been pursuing in fits and starts for several years.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 06:03 PM

China president's conciliatory trade gesture raises optimism

BEIJING - Investors and China watchers welcomed President Xi Jinping's pledge Tuesday to open his country's market wider to foreign competition, hoping it will ease a trade dispute with Washington that has unsettled financial markets and could jeopardize a global economic expansion.

Xi's vow to cut Chinese auto tariffs, allow more competition in banking and better protect intellectual property calmed investors who have been on edge since the world's two biggest economies last week announced plans to slap tariffs on $50 billion worth of each other's products.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 05:29 PM

After takeover, Aecon could still bid on infrastructure projects, docs suggest

OTTAWA - The Aecon construction firm will likely be allowed to bid on government-funded infrastructure projects even if Ottawa approves a Chinese state-owned company's controversial proposal to take it over, an internal federal document says.

Last October, the CCCC International Holding Ltd., of China made a $1.5-billion bid to acquire Aecon Group Inc., which has a long history of participation in Canadian construction and engineering projects such as the CN Tower, Vancouver's SkyTrain, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Halifax shipyard.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 05:27 PM

Energy sector helps Toronto stocks; U.S. markets higher after Chinese comments

Rising commodity prices helped push Canada's main stock index to close higher Tuesday, while U.S. markets surged after Chinese President Xi Jinping offered possible concessions in a trade dispute with the U.S.

Oil prices rose 3.3 per cent as U.S. President Donald Trump said he's considering retaliatory action on chemical weapons use by Syria, raising geopolitical tensions and potential supply disruptions in the region, said Sid Mokhtari, executive director of institutional equity research at CIBC.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | 05:20 PM