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The Canadian Insider blog discusses news and insight found among executive and significant shareholder filings in Canada.

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As Ottawa beggars thy consumer, insiders tag along

July 27, 2015 - The Canadian consumer put in a strong showing in May as retail sales jumped 1% over the previous month. That strength could be in jeopardy, however, as policies targeting a lower loonie may put a dent in the prosperity of most Canadians. In particular, if BMO Chief Economist Doug Porter and his colleagues are right, a weakening loonie could soon clobber the real spending growth of Canadians. According to their July 24 report, as the loonie rose from 2002 to 2008, real consumer spending growth in Canada averaged an annualized growth rate of 3.8% which compared favourably to the weak loonie period from 1992-2002 when real consumer spending rose only 2.4% per year. The bottom line, according to the BMO team, is that a weak loonie for the Canadian consumer "is bad news, period."

North American oil & gas insiders showing caution

While Canadian insiders continue to signal that the Energy sector is undervalued, they are being much more cautious in their buying during the current pullback in oil & gas stocks than they were in early winter. The muted response of insiders may be partly explained by trading blackout restrictions. Alternatively, insiders might be content to wait to see how oil markets settle out given the risk of more Iranian crude hitting the market next year on the back of the 6-nation nuclear deal struck in Vienna.

CEO buying at NioGold

While yesterday we featured a junior stock which was a contrarian situation, today we look at an example of relative strength in NioGold Mining (NOX). We last featured NioGold here on April 15. The stock has been relatively flat since the report which translates into strong relative performance against the broad iShares S&P/TSX Global Gold Index Fund Units (XGD) which over the same time period is down 25.5%.

The stock has come to our attention because CEO Robert Wares (featured on our Power Player blog last year) was a cofounder of Osisko Mining and has been buying recently. It is also notable that Osisko Gold Royalties (INK Edge Outlook: cloudy; OR), a spin off of Osisko Mining, is the largest insider equity holder at NioGold with 19.36% of shares outstanding.

Oversold signals at Foran Mining (FOM)

The share price of base metals junior Foran Mining (FOM) has tumbled since we featured it in our morning report on May 4th when the stock closed at $0.265. The share price last closed at $0.14 on July 17th (and hitting a new 52-week low on the day of $0.13). The stock has been dealt a double-whammy of renewed US dollar euphoria on the back of a promised but undelivered rate hike, and a wave of risk aversion stemming from concerns over Greece and China. Certainly, China has played havoc with commodity markets over the past 48 hours as a tightening of rules governing non-bank lending may have contributed to broad selling of precious metals. Many industrial metals including copper were dragged down for the ride.

Who is clapping for Canada's central bank planned economy?

July 20, 2015 - If there was any doubt that the current government in Ottawa has thrown in the philosophical towel on free market oriented economics, it was removed last week when its central bank governor cut rates back down to great financial crisis levels. The lack of a crisis did not deter the central bank from pushing overnight rates into emergency status, a situation last seen during 2009 when the global economy was on the brink in wake of the Lehman bankruptcy.

On Wednesday, central bank governor Stephen Poloz even had to admit that the rate cut could negatively impact financial stability "vulnerabilities." This rolling of the dice has brought out the critics, which now even include some Bay Street money-bank economists. 

Warke builds stake in Arizona silver-base metals play

Warke's knack for extracting maximum value from his plays - he had described Hudbay's first offer as "grossly inadequate" - was also evident in the sale of Ventana Gold in 2011, the year gold hit almost US$1,900 an ounce. Warke, Ventana's cofounder and executive chairman, sold the company and its La Bodega gold deposit in Colombia for $1.53 billion to Brazilian Eike Batista, after rebuffing the deal maker's initial offer. (Batista's resource empire subsequently went bust, reducing his multibillion-dollar empire to bankruptcy.)

Make that two Poloz rate cuts to go!

Bank of Canada rate cuts may well have been the most popular item at global convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard (INK Edge outlook: sunny; ATD.B) Wednesday, if not with their customers certainly with shareholders. The stock was the best performing name (+4.2%) in the INK Canadian Insider (CIN) Index as insider stocks rallied on the back of a quarter point drop in the central bank's overnight rate. However, the Poloz cut did not lift all boats. While both the INK CIN Index (+0.14%) and the S&P/TSX Composite Index (+0.43%) rallied on the rate news, both the S&P/TSX Completion (-0.37%) and Small Cap (-0.44%) indices dropped. Perhaps most surprising was a drop in the Dividend Aristocrats Index which suffered a -0.47% loss.

Ex-politician rings the Bell for Dominion Diamond

Brendan Bell, the acting CEO of Dominion Diamond (DDC), took an unconventional route to the C-suite. Neither a geologist nor an investment banker, Bell was a cabinet minister in the Northwest Territories before joining the northern diamond producer in July 2013. As the company's stock has plummeted recently, Bell has been buying. He purchased 5,000 shares at $18.14 on June 25, following that up with another 5,000-share buy four days later at $17.65.

Insider sentiment remains upbeat despite China and Greece woes

July 13, 2015 - As of early Monday morning, there were only a few details available of a deal reached between Greece and its creditors for another bailout. Early indications suggest the agreement will on balance support growth. It may also increase the chances that the Federal Reserve will be able to raise rates later this year.  

Meanwhile, in China it may be too early to tell whether the summer collapse in the stock market signals either a growth or political set back for the world's second largest economy. In particular, China-related margin calls may well have been primarily responsible for the plunge in metals markets last week. It will take some time to see whether there was more to the metals wipe-out than simply the margin clerks at work.

As historic policy decisions loom, Canadian insiders still bet on reflation

The margin of error for policymakers around the globe has not been this narrow since September 15, 2008, the first trading day after the Lehman collapse. However, there is one big difference: the stakes have never been personally higher for individual policymakers.

In particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel must balance the demands of her conservative political base against the possibility that over-pandering to her supporters could lead to an unwinding of the euro via a Greece exit. In contrast, for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras a post-euro Greece would no doubt stumble badly; its pain would not be made up for by the fact that Germany would be on the hook for billions of euros in debt.

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