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Loonie soars, Millennials moan & not-so 'smart' locks : BUSINESS WEEK WRAP

05/08/2015 06:00 EDT | Updated 05/08/2016 05:59 EDT
It may come as a surprise to anyone who's tried to convert loonies into U.S. dollars recently, but the Canadian dollar has quietly become the best performing major currency in the world of late.

Strange, but true. In a report this week, we told you about the recent recovery of the lowly Canadian dollar — the same loonie that was worth as much as 95 cents US last summer before losing eight per cent of its value in January alone.

Since then, however, it's been a different story. In a textbook case of lowering expectations, the loonie is up by four per cent this quarter against the U.S. dollar. That's normally nothing to write home about, but among major currencies, the loonie has achieved the No. 1 performance, since troughing in the middle of March.

It's done twice as well as the second-place Kiwi dollar, and is one of the few to be in positive territory overall.

The main reason? Oil. It's no coincidence that the loonie's value is closely tied to the price of crude, and just as the loonie took the oil swoon on the chin, so too is it now benefiting from an oil price that is now flirting with $60 a barrel since apparently bottoming out at $42 earlier this year.

Now, let's see if it lasts.

Canada lags in e-commerce

Speaking of less bang for your report, a report from online marketplace eBay this week highlights how behind the times Canadian retailers are in terms of e-commerce. Despite a number of national retail chains having strong presenses in brick and mortar stores, no truly Canadian stores are in the top 10 sellers in Canada's online selling marketplace, currently worth $16 billion a year.

How U.S.-focused are we? Amazon, eBay and Apple alone make up more than a third of all the goods sold online in Canada. A few companies are getting serious about their web offerings, but the Retail Council of Canada told us this week that selling online in Canada is a trickier proposition than it is elsewhere.

"It costs you the same amount to run an e-commerce site here as it does in the U.S., you have 10 per cent of the population, so that investment is really difficult to yield a benefit," Michael LeBlanc said.

Smart locks not that smart

A story we did this week about smart locks made waves as a cautionary tale. In recent years, so called "smart locks" have become popular with some consumers. Instead of physical keys, the locks work by using a smartphone app or keyfob to unlock doors by proximity.

What they gain in convenience they may lack, however, in security, as we uncovered a few examples of criminals being able to hack into the locks' electronic signatures and unlawfully open doors.

Experts told us even when the smart locks are well designed and tested, they likely don't provide any better security than conventional locks and keys.

Certainly food for thought for anyone thinking of testing out a technology that, at first blush, has real potential.

Millennial job prospects

It's a journalism cliché that Millennials might end up to be the first generation that won't end up better off than their parents did. But  as the CBC's Renee Filippone reported this week, it's a mixed bag. 

According to a recent survey, many see the new reality of transient working as just fine, and are far more confident about getting what they want out of life. 

Others tend to lose their optimism once they leave school and try to enter the workforce

"It sort of dims down when you get closer to that stage when you actually have to decide not only what I want to do in life, but I've got to actually find something that's going to pay the bills and maybe allow me to move out of my parents' home," pollster David Coletto at Abacus Data said.

Other stuff

Those were a few of our best stories this week. Be sure and check out our homepage often for more, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter here. In the meantime, here's a day by day list of some of our best stuff you may have missed

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

- DON PITTIS: Casting blame for Canada's trade deficit disaster

Thursday

- ANALYSIS: Alberta's backlash against 'business knows best'

Friday

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