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Briefs (left)

Stronger Canadian Dollar
Is Hurting Some Exporters

By Ian Austen


The Canadian dollar has risen to levels not seen since the 1970s, but that has brought little joy to J. Robert S. Prichard at Torstar, which publishes romance novels and newspapers.

At this week’s annual meeting, Prichard, Torstar’s chief executive, said earnings had been cut in half largely because of the exchange rate, which has hurt results at its export-dependent Harlequin Enterprises novel unit.

After bottoming at 62 cents in 2002, Canada’s loonie — the popular name for the country’s $1 coin that features a loon — closed at 90 cents to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, a first since 1978. That may not be the end.

Some economists and traders are forecasting parity between the two currencies, something that has not happened in 30 years.

In some ways, the Canadian dollar’s rise is an endorsement of the track that its economy has taken. Canada has posted 10 consecutive years of balanced federal budgets; its debt-to-GDP ratio is one of the world’s lowest; employment levels are high; and soaring commodity prices, particularly for oil, have brought good times to many of the country’s resource-based industries.

Senate Defies Bush,
Passes Spending Bill

By Carl Hulse


The Senate on Thursday approved a $109-billion measure to pay for the war in Iraq and Gulf Coast hurricane recovery, ignoring a veto threat by President Bush and an increasingly hard line against spending by House Republicans.

On a 77-21 vote, the Senate approved the legislation, which would provide almost $71 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and foreign aid, $29 billion for hurricane relief, $4 billion for farm assistance, $2.5 billion to prepare for a potential flu pandemic, and $2.5 billion for border enforcement and port security.

“It is very important to the protection of the security interests of the people of the United States,” said Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, was the chief author of the measure.

China, Japan and S.Korea Move
To Coordinate Their Currencies

By Anand Giridharadas


Finance ministers from China, Japan and South Korea announced tentative steps on Thursday to coordinate their currencies in ways that could ultimately produce a common regional currency like the euro.

The ministers, speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank here, said that they would work toward closer coordination of their foreign-exchange policies. They also pledged to enhance an existing framework to defend regional currencies against speculators and work toward the development of Asian bond markets.

South Korea, Japan and China will “immediately launch discussions on the road map for the system to coordinate foreign-exchange policy,” the ministers said in a joint statement. “We agreed on further study of related issues, including the usefulness of regional currency units.”