Take Stock – November 6

The value of building permits increased 1.6 per cent to $5.1 billion in September, their second straight monthly increase.

Value of building permits rises in September

The value of building permits increased 1.6 per cent to $5.1 billion in September, their second straight monthly increase.

Statistics Canada says the numbers were boosted by higher intentions in the residential sector, which more than offset a decline in the non-residential sector. The agency reports gains in the value of multi-family dwellings, especially in British Columbia and Ontario, helped boost the value of residential permits 9.4 per cent to $3.2 billion.

The value of non-residential permits fell 9.1 per cent to $1.9 billion in September, largely due to drops in the institutional and commercial components in British Columbia.

Insurance companies take it on the chin

Losses rained down on two of Canada’s biggest life insurance companies on Thursday as volatility on the stock markets, narrowing spreads and interest rates pulled results at Manulife Financial and Sun Life into the red. Meanwhile, competitor Great-West Lifeco eked out a profit.

Manulife chief executive officer Donald Guloien told analysts that the life insurer continues working to improve margins, increase sales and its equity risk profile. Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC) slid to a $172-million loss, worth 12 cents per share, as it booked a $1.1-billion pretax charge on changes in actuarial assumptions used to value its policy liabilities. The results compared with year-earlier profits of $510 million or 33 cents per share, and also slipped below analyst predictions.

Meanwhile, Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF), Canada’s third biggest insurance company, pulled its third-quarter losses down by half to $140 million or 25 cents per share, which was an improvement from a net loss of $396 million or 71 cents per share in the third quarter of 2008. Analysts had estimated Sun Life would produce a smaller loss of 19 cents per share

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