Canadian stocks were lower Tuesday amid news that the board at Botox-maker Allergan has unanimously rejected an improved takeover offer by Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals.The S&P/TSX composite index fell 5.76 points to 14,865.45.The Canadian dollar was almost unchanged, up slightly by 0.02 of a cent to 91.70 cents USAllergan says Valeant’s offer undervalues the California-based company and creates significant risks and uncertainties for its shareholders.Earlier this month, with the backing of activist shareholder Bill Ackman, Valeant (TSX:VRX) raised its stock-and-cash bid to about US$180 per share, valuing Allergan at more than US$54 billion.Allergan repeated its claim that Valeant’s has an unsustainable business model that relies on “serial” acquisitions and cost reductions, as opposed to revenue growth and operational excellence. Shares in Valeant were up 32 cents, or 0.23 per cent, to $138.35 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.Meanwhile, Wall Street mostly took back some gains, as the Dow Jones industrials dropped 21.87 to 16,921.23, the Nasdaq gained 0.48 of a point to 4,336.72, while the S&P 500 index dipped 2.48 points to 1,948.79.Investors are digesting news from China overnight that showed inflation has risen to a five-month high of 2.5 per cent in May, driven by higher food prices.The Chinese government reported that inflation is still is below the ruling Communist Party’s 3.5 per cent target for the year, leaving room for interest rate cuts or other measures to stimulate the slowing economy if needed. May inflation was up from the previous month’s 1.8 per cent, boosted by a 4.1 per cent rise in food prices.Chinese economic growth slowed to 7.4 per cent in the three months ended March 31 from the previous quarter’s 7.7 per cent. Other indicators suggest growth might slow still further in the current quarter.Equities markets have been optimistic in recent sessions as signs indicate that global economies are faring well, or central banks were poised to pump more stimulus to ensure they do.Last week, the European Central Bank announced that it was going to deal with the threat of deflation and give some lift to a tepid economic recovery in the eurozone by cutting its lending rate to 0.15 per cent from 0.25 per cent and dropping its overnight deposit rate to minus 0.1 per cent from zero.There’s also been signs of strong first quarter growth in Japan, an improvement in China’s exports and a solid U.S. jobs report for May.Meanwhile, in Canada, a survey by international human resources firm Manpower Inc. suggests about 20 per cent of Canadian companies expect to add to their payrolls in the third quarter.But when factoring in seasonal variants, Manpower says that figure falls to 10 per cent. Overall, four per cent of firms that expected to shed workers in the July-September period.No other Canadian economic releases are scheduled for Tuesday.Commodities were mostly higher as the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 24 cents to US$104.65 a barrel. August bullion rose $7.30 to US$1,261.20 an ounce and July copper was unchanged US$3.05 a pound.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on 1 April, the Thai military Government was granted permission to revoke martial law and replace it with extraordinary powers under article 44 of the country’s Interim Constitution. “Normally, I would welcome the lifting of martial law – and indeed strongly advocated for it to be lifted in Thailand,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a news release. “But I am alarmed at the decision to replace martial law with something even more draconian, which bestows unlimited power on the current Prime Minister without any judicial oversight at all. This clearly leaves the door wide open to serious violations of fundamental human rights.”The new powers grant military personnel down to the rank of Second Lieutenant the ability to be appointed as so-called peace and maintenance officers with sweeping law enforcement powers, including to search, arrest and detain without judicial oversight. In addition, they are empowered to conduct any other action as determined by the National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO). In the news release, OHCHR explained that Article 44 effectively allows the head of the NCPO, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, to issue “any legislative, executive or judicial order.” For his part, Mr. Zeid voiced unease that the NCPO order also “annihilates freedom of expression” – a concern reiterated yesterday by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye.“It explicitly gives these military peace and order maintenance officers the authority to prohibit ‘the reporting of news’ or sale or distribution of books, publications, or any other medium that ‘may create public fear or are intended to distort news and information to cause misunderstandings which could affect national security or public order,’” the UN rights chief continued. “Freedom of assembly also remains severely curtailed, with heavy punishment earmarked for protesters who gather in groups of more than five.”“I urge the Thai Government to comply with its obligations under international human rights law and promptly restore normal civilian rule of law, as it pledged to do after the coup in May last year,” he concluded.