“Whoever Is Winning At The Moment Will Always Seem Invincible” -George Orwell

Lower Oil Price Hurts TSX

The main TSX index closed lower Friday as energy and financials led losses for half of the main sectors while IT and materials were the best performers. Oil prices slipped almost 1.5 per cent in the session but closed out the week higher as concern grew over rising US production which threatens to dampen the impact of the output caps agreed by OPEC and others.

The S&P/TSX composite index shed 39.71 points to 15,575.81, with the energy sector registering the biggest losses for the index.The March crude contract slipped 61 cents to US$53.17 a barrel.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 7.13 points to 20,093.78, the S&P 500 dropped a meagre 1.99 points to 2,294.69, and the Nasdaq composite rose 5.60 points to 5,660.78.
The Canadian dollar fell 0.23 of a U.S. cent to 76.12 cents US.

European indexes closed generally lower although London’s FTSE gained on optimism from the British prime minister’s meeting with President Trump. Asian indexes closed mostly higher although trade was thin with some markets, including China, closed for public holidays.

 

CRA Business Inquiries Phone Line Gets a “C-“

Third time isn’t a charm for the CRA’s business inquiries phone line. As part of its red tape awareness week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has conducted its third secret shopper evaluation of CRA’s call centre, giving it a grade of C-minus. Here’s the breakdown of the grade:

Accountability (A+). CFIB saw a laudable increase in agents providing their name and agent identification number.

Accuracy of information (D-). Only 69% of inquiries resulted in complete and accurate answers. This is a decrease from the 2012 survey, where 76% all responses were complete. A third of callers are still receiving incorrect or insufficient information.

Connecting to an agent (F). The lacklustre evaluation was mostly due to the number of calls that didn’t reach a CRA agent — nearly 30%. On many occasions, the callers simply couldn’t get past the busy signals. The number of calls that were unsuccessful at reaching an agent is up 50% since 2012.

Wait time (B+). Once in the queue, callers waited only two minutes on average, which is the goal set out by the CRA service standard.

Agent professionalism (C-). While the majority of agents tried their best to answer questions, some put little effort into answering clearly and correctly. Some agents simply read the answer off the website, while others directed the caller to the webpage without providing a verbal answer.

“The CRA helpline needs to find ways to offer better service to business owners,” says CFIB vice-president of national affairs, Monique Moreau, in a release. “We do applaud the government’s investments in the call centre from budget 2016 but encourage them to continue making good customer service a priority.”

 

Sources: Bloomberg; Investment Executive; advisor.ca;  CFIB