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TMCNet:  Business News as of 3 p.m. ET

[November 21, 2012]

Business News as of 3 p.m. ET

(Canadian Press DataFile Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Wednesday, Nov. 21@ 3 p.m. ET BUSINESS NEWS ADVISORY Here are the top Business News stories from The Canadian Press as of 3 p.m. ET. All times are Eastern unless otherwise stated. Coverage plans are included when available. Entries are subject to change as news develops.



Queries should be addressed to the business desk at 416-507-2138. To reach CP Business by email, send messages to business(at)thecanadianpress.com.

___ TOP BUSINESS NEWS THIS HOUR ___ Another U.S. gov't agency drops BlackBerry Research-In-Motion BlackBerry smartphones are being dropped by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board in favour of the new iPhone 5, with "performance issues" cited as the reason. The Washington-based board, the latest American government agency to turn away from the BlackBerry, said it needs reliable devices for its employees to investigate accidents, often in remote locations.

___ RBC drops expiry date on prepaid Visa card Prepaid-Credit-Cards TORONTO _ Canada's largest banking group has dropped expiry dates and most of the fees on its prepaid Visa cards in the wake of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announcing plans to introduce new rules for the cards.RBC Royal Bank (TSX:RY) said Wednesday it will continue to charge a one-time flat fee of $3.95 to issue the prepaid card but all the money loaded will remain available to make purchases. Its prepaid cards will continue to show an expiry date but a new card can be requested at no charge if a balance remains after that date. PHOTO.

___ Pinecrest Energy, Spartan oil to merge Pinecrest-Spartan CALGARY _ Pinecrest Energy Inc. and Spartan Oil Corp. are joining forces to create a new billion-dollar company capable of snapping up big oil assets that both have long coveted, but neither had the heft to acquire on its own.The combined company's balance sheet strength "opens up the door to large, transformational assets that we would not be able to participate in before individually," Pinecrest CEO Wade Becker told a conference call Wednesday to discuss the transaction.

___ October housing index falls from September Teranet-Home-Prices TORONTO _ There's mounting evidence October was a weak month for sales of Canadian housing.A new monthly analysis by Teranet shows Canadian housing prices declined last month compared with September _ only the third time in 13 years of data that there was a month-to-month decline in October.

___ Railways pricing expected to moderate in 2013 Transportation-Outlook MONTREAL _ Customers believe the cost of transporting goods by rail in North America will increase in 2013 but at a more modest pace than in recent years due to the lingering economic slowdown.An RBC Capital Markets survey of 74 top railway customers found that 72 per cent expected higher prices next year, with 39 per cent forecasting increases of one to three per cent.

___ BUZZ ___ Most holiday shoppers won't use apps: survey Cyberfile-Smartphones-Shopping MONTREAL _ Smartphones can scan barcodes and offer real-time discounts but most Canadians won't bother using apps while shopping this holiday season, a new survey suggests. About 70 per cent of those surveyed weren't planning to use a mobile application or feature to help buy gifts, according to the results of a poll commissioned by wireless carrier Mobilicity.

___ ALSO IN THE NEWS ___ TSX little changed amid bailout concerns Dollar-Markets TORONTO _ The Toronto stock market was higher Wednesday afternoon as U.S. data showed the economy steadily recovering, which took some of the sting from another failure by eurozone leaders to agree on a vital batch of bailout money for Greece.The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 38.97 points to 12,085.25 as indexes also moved higher on news that Israel and the Hamas militant group have reached a ceasefire agreement after eight days of fierce fighting. PHOTO. will be updated ___ Canadian dollar moves slightly lower Loonie TORONTO _ The Canadian dollar was little changed Wednesday as traders focused on Greece and the continued inability of eurozone finance ministers to agree on getting the next batch of desperately needed bailout money to that country.The loonie was off 0.05 of a cent at 100.22 cents US as traders also took in some positive American economic data. Will be updated ___ Oil up to above $87 after Tel Aviv bus explosion Oil-Prices The price of oil rebounded slightly to above $87 a barrel on Wednesday after an explosion injured 10 people on a bus in Tel Aviv, a development that has the potential to seriously complicate diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Islamic militant group Hamas.

___ Gas pipeline surveyors evicted by band members Pipeline-Eviction KITIMAT _ Members of a northern B.C. First Nation have evicted surveyors working on a natural gas pipeline project, and set up a road block for all pipeline activity.A group identifying itself as the Unis'tot'en (YOU-nis-tottin) clan of the Wet'suwet'en (wet-SOO-it-in) Nation say surveyors for Apache Canada's Pacific Trails pipeline were trespassing. Will be writethru. Moves National and Business. Guard against duplication.

___ CGI Group wins John Hancock contract CGI-Group TORONTO _ CGI Group has been awarded a $142-million, seven-year contract from Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) subsidiary John Hancock Financial to provide infrastructure services and consolidate the U.S. financial service company's data centres. The Montreal-based based information technology and IT services company said Wednesday it will reduce John Hancock's five data centres to two, located in the U.S. northeast. Will be updated.

___ Nova Scotia to allow cross- border wine sales NS-Wine-Imports HALIFAX _ Nova Scotia wine drinkers would be able to import wine from other parts of Canada under provincial legislation proposed today.Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald says changes to Nova Scotia's regulations follows a recent decision by the federal government to lift its prohibition on wine importation. Moves business and regional. Guard against duplication.

__ Deere says 4Q net income up 2.7 per cent US-Earns-Deere MINNEAPOLIS _ The farm and construction equipment maker Deere says its fourth-quarter net income rose 2.7 per cent as it sold more farm gear at higher prices.Deere & Co. says it earned $687.6 million for the quarter, or $1.75 per share. Revenue rose 14 per cent to $9.79 billion. PHOTO. APNewsNow.

___ Controversial quarry project scrapped Quarry-Cancelled MELANCTHON _ Plans to build a massive quarry north of Toronto have been cancelled after the company behind the controversial project withdrew its application Wednesday, acknowledging it does not have the support of the community and the government.Highland Companies wanted to develop Canada's second-largest quarry in Melancthon Township but the project was met with protests by local residents who said the quarry would destroy prime farmland and threaten the region's water tables. Will be writethru ___ Deloitte acquires minerals consultancy Venmyn Deloitte-Acquisition TORONTO _ Professional services firm Deloitte has acquired South African-based mining consultancy Venmyn in a move to create a new technical and economic minerals advisory business.The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, consolidates Deloitte's existing mining advisory services practice into the new entity.

___ Greek PM presses for deal on loan EU-Greece-Financial-Crisis ATHENS _ Greece reacted with dismay Wednesday after European finance ministers failed to agree to release vital rescue loans, with the prime minister warning that the stakes are higher than just his debt-ridden country's future. PHOTO.

___ Fewer seek US jobless aid as storm distorts data US-Unemployment-Benefits WASHINGTON _ The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to a seasonally adjusted 410,000, though the figure was elevated for the second straight week by Superstorm Sandy.The Labor Department said Wednesday that applications dropped by 41,000 from the previous week, when the storm drove applications to their highest level in 18 months. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 9,500 to 396,250. PHOTO.

___ (c) 2012 The Canadian Press

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