Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 1.0% in January year-over-year. The increase was largely due to higher gasoline prices (6.1%). Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.3%, which is up from 1.0% in December. Prices rose in seven of eight components year-over-year in January. Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation inched up slightly, averaging 1.5%. 

Regionally, the CPI was positive in eight provinces, led by Newfoundland and Labrador (1.5%). In BC, CPI rose by 1.1% in January year-over-year, up from December's increase of 0.8%. Strong price growth continued for health and personal care and shelter. Home furnishings also pulled ahead in January on the heels of robust home sales. In contrast, gas prices continue to be a drag on BC's inflation. 

Inflation is expected to remain weak until the vaccine rollout becomes more widespread and health regulations across the country are relaxed. In the current environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low.
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Vancouver, BC – February 11, 2021. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,169 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2021, an increase of 63.3 per cent over January 2020 and over a thousand sales higher than the previous record for the month of January. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $845,169, a 16.1 per cent increase from $728,269 recorded in January 2020. Total sales dollar volume was $6.1 billion, an 89.6 per cent increase from last year.

“It was once again a record-setting month for the provincial housing market,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “While sales were strong across all regions of the province, the Fraser Valley, Interior and Vancouver Island regions shattered previous sales records and pushed January sales to new heights.”

Total active residential listings were down 21.5 per cent to 20,254 units in January, the lowest level of provincial active listings on record, going back to 2000. With strong sales and so few listings, market conditions are exceptionally tight with less than three months of total supply. 

“The supply of listings continues to be held back by the pandemic,” added Ogmundson. “With so few listings, markets are starved for supply and prices are under extraordinary pressure.”  
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BCREA 2021 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update


Vancouver, BC – January 25, 2021. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2021 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to rise 15.6 per cent to 108,680 units this year, after recording 94,021 sales in 2020. In 2022, MLS® residential sales are forecast to pull back 9 per cent to 98,850 units.  

“After an unprecedented and often surprising performance in 2020, the provincial housing market is set up for a very strong year in 2021,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Chief Economist. “A strong economic recovery and record-low mortgage rates will continue to drive strong demand this year.” 

On the supply side, new listings activity recovered through the second half of 2020, but not nearly enough to see any accumulation in overall inventory. As a result, market conditions will start 2021 very tight, with the potential for strong price increases through the spring and summer until new supply comes online. We are forecasting a 7.7 per cent rise in the MLS® average price this year, followed by a further 3 per cent in 2022.

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Canadian retail sales rose for the seventh consecutive month in November by 1.3% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, defying Statistic Canada's preliminary estimate of no change. Sales were up in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 53% of retail sales. The increase was led by higher sales at food and beverage stores. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 7.5%.    

Sales were up in all provinces except for Manitoba. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 0.8% ($8.0 billion) and by 1.4% ($3.7 billion) in Vancouver. Contributing the most to the increase were sales at electronic and appliance stores, while sales were down at auto dealers and gas stations. Compared to the same time last year, BC retail sales were up by 11.1%.   

In November, Canadian e-commerce sales totaled $4.3 billion, accounting for 7.4% of total retails sales, which is up from 5.4% in the previous month. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales were up by 76% from a year ago. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
November was a pleasant surprise in retail sales, as consumers likely pulled forward their purchases in anticipation of the holiday rush, as well as promotional events such as Black Friday. Early estimates from Statistics Canada are showing a December decline, as COVID-19 cases increase and multiple provinces implement stricter lockdown measures. Growth in retail sales is expected to slow until the vaccine becomes more widely available.
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The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank reiterated what it calls "extraordinary forward guidance" in committing to leaving the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation sustainably returns to its 2 per cent target. The  Bank projects that will not occur until 2023. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, purchasing at least $4 billion of Government of Canada bonds per week. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the economic recovery has been interrupted by the second wave of COVID-19, but the arrival of effective vaccines has boosted the medium-term outlook for economic growth.  The Bank expects the Canadian economy will grow 4 per cent in 2021 and 5 per cent in 2022.

The restrictions in place to mitigate the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 mean that the economy is likely going to get off to a slow start in 2021.  However, as vaccinations accelerate in coming months, the Canadian economic recovery will gain steam in the second half of 2021. Depending on the strength of the recovery, we may see the Bank taper its purchases of government bonds in 2022, which could put moderate upward pressure on 5-year fixed mortgage rates. However, that still means the current extremely low interest rate environment will be around for quite some time.
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Canadian employment lost 63k jobs in December (-0.3%, m/m), representing the first decline since April 2020. This comes on the heels of many provinces reinstating public health measures that closed recreational facilities and in-person dining services. The decline was led by part-time employment, specifically among youth aged 15 to 24 and those 55 and above. Employment declined in all provinces except for BC. The national unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 8.6%, which is still a fall from the record high of 13.7% in May 2020. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 3.0% (-572k).

In BC, employment grew by 3.8k (0.2%, m/m) in December, following a gain of 24k in the previous month. The province continues to be at 99% of its pre-COVID February employment level. The unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 7.2%, the first increase since the record high of 13.4% in May 2020. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, employment decreased by 1.1k (-0.1%, m/m). Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 1.4% (-37K) jobs.

Despite rising cases of COVID-19 across the country, employment in BC bucked the trend and grew in December. Industries that saw the largest increases were construction and manufacturing, while like the rest of the country, employment fell in accommodation and food services. On the whole, we can expect national employment growth to come to a standstill as caseloads and hospitalizations increase, leaving many provinces to extend restrictions and partial lockdowns. 

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Canadian real GDP grew by 0.4% in October, following a 0.8% increase in September. This is the weakest rate of growth since May but marks the sixth consecutive monthly increase in GDP since the steepest drop in Canadian history was observed earlier this year. Sixteen of the twenty industries reported an increase in output. Leading the increase was professional services (1.0%), while accommodation and food services reported a steep decline (-3.9%) as patios closed up and heightened restrictions were implemented.

Early estimates from Statistics Canada indicate that real GDP grew by 0.4% in November. We continue to anticipate growth, albeit at a slower rate as the economy has once again been hampered by rising COVID-19 cases and lockdowns in many provinces. The soft handoff to the new year will mean that the first quarter of 2021 will struggle to report any growth.  

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Retail sales rose for the sixth consecutive month in October by 0.4% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which is higher than Statistic Canada's preliminary estimate of no change. Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 50.9% of retail sales. The increase was led by higher sales at auto and parts dealers. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 7.5%.    

Sales were up in seven provinces in October. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 2.1% ($8.0 billion) and by 2.8% ($3.7 billion) in Vancouver. Contributing the most to the increase were sales at health and personal care stores. Compared to the same time last year, BC retail sales were up by 11.5%.   

In October, e-commerce sales totaled $3.1 billion, accounting for 5.2% of total retails sales, which is down from 5.6% in the previous month. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales were up by 68% from a year ago. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
Despite the rising cases of COVID-19 and stricter lockdown measures in many provinces, positive retail sales are expected going into the holiday season, especially in e-commerce.
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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 1.0% in November year-over-year. This is the largest increase since the pandemic started in March. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.4%. Prices rose in six of eight components year-over-year in November, with the recreation, education, and reading index contributing the most to the increase. Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation remains unchanged from the previous month, averaging 1.7%. 

Regionally, the CPI was positive in eight provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 1.1% in November year-over-year, up from October's increase of 0.5%. Strong price growth continued for health and personal care (3.3%) and shelter (2.4%). In contrast, gas prices continue to be a drag on BC's inflation (-12.3%). 

Costs for shelter continue to increase, as rental rates rise and record-low interest rates put downward pressure on mortgage costs, making single-family homes more attractive to households demanding more space. As containment measures expand in many provinces, consumers are spending more on furniture and household appliances, which remain above pre-pandemic levels. Canadian inflation is expected to remain subdued in the near future. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low.
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The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, purchasing at least $4 billion of Government of Canada bonds per week and re-affirmed its forward guidance on future interests moves, committing to holding the policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation is sustainably trending at 2 per cent.   In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the recovery underway will be choppy due to rising cases of COVID-19 and will continue to require extraordinary monetary support from the bank.

Current slack in the economy, along with low energy prices, is holding Canadian inflation well below its target of 2 per cent. Total CPI inflation is trending under 1 per cent while the Bank of Canada’s measures of “core” inflation remain below target despite the massive expansion of the Bank’s balance sheet necessary to facilitate its quantitative easing program. With the arrival of viable vaccines, we may see the Canadian economic recovery materially accelerate in the second half of 2021. If that occurs, the first stage of tighter monetary policy from the Bank will be how and when it decides to taper purchases of government bonds over the next year. As it does,  we may start to see a divergence in variable and fixed rates by early summer as bond yields rise and fixed mortgage rates move marginally higher.

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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.7% in October year-over-year, up from the previous month's increase of 0.5%. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.1%. Prices rose in five of eight components year-over-year in October, with food contributing the most to the increase due to rising prices for lettuce as a result of disease and inclement weather. Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation rose by 0.1 percentage points in October, averaging 1.8%. 

Regionally, the CPI was positive in all provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 0.5% in October year-over-year, up from September's increase of 0.4%. Strong price growth continued for health and personal care (3.1%), shelter (2.2%), and food (2.0%). In contrast, downward price pressures were ongoing in gas (-18.0%), clothing and footwear (-3.8%), and transportation (-1.7%). 

Costs for shelter continue to increase, as record-low interest rates put downward pressure on mortgage costs. This has made single-family homes more attractive to households demanding more space. As provinces such as Ontario and Quebec expand their containment measures, and with new restrictions in BC, Canadian inflation is expected to remain subdued. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low.

Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-inflation-oct-november-18-2020

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Vancouver, BC – November 12, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 11,051 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in October 2020, an increase of 43.8 per cent from October 2019. The average MLS® residential price in BC set a record of $812,960, a 12.5 per cent increase from $722,333 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume in August was $8.98 billion, a 61.8 per cent increase over 2019.

“The provincial housing market sustained its blistering pace of activity in October,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “While pent-up demand may be starting to fade, record low interest rates and a recovering job market are supporting strong sales.”

“A pandemic-driven shift in buyers’ preference for extra space is pushing average prices to record highs as larger value transactions account for a higher share of sales,” added Ogmundson. Prices are also being pushed higher by a lack of inventory. Total provincial active listings continue to trend lower and were close to 14 per cent lower in October 2020 compared to 2019.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 29.7 per cent to $58.7 billion, compared with the same period in 2019. Residential unit sales were up 16.3 per cent to 76,140 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 11.5 per cent to $771,085.   

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Canadian employment gained 84k jobs in October (0.5%, m/m), following a gain of 378k in September. This is the sixth consecutive month of increases, putting national employment within 636k of its pre-COVID February level. The national unemployment rate was little changed at 8.9%, as some provinces reinstated containment measures targeted at restaurants and bars, and recreational facilities. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 3.1% (-598k).

Regionally, employment increased in five provinces, with the largest gains in BC and Ontario. In BC, employment grew by 33.5k (1.4%, m/m) in October, following a gain of 55k in September. The province is now at 97% of its pre-COVID February employment level. The unemployment rate fell for the fifth consecutive month, down by 0.4 percentage points to 8.0%. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, employment increased by 52k jobs (3.8%, m/m). Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 3.3% (-86K) jobs.

As expected, employment recovery was slower in October than the jumps we saw earlier on. Gains in industries that were hardest hit reported some backpedaling in October, as a few provinces reinstated containment measures. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the path to recovery will be tougher, especially if containment measures in Ontario and Quebec are prolonged, and if other provinces/territories decide to follow suit.

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Vancouver, BC – November 4, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2020 Fourth Quarter Housing Forecast today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to rise 16.9 per cent to 90,450 units this year, after recording 77,350 residential sales in 2019. MLS® residential sales are forecast to increase 9.7 per cent to 99,240 units in 2021.

 “The housing market had a record fall season and prices are rapidly rising as pent-up demand floods into an under-supplied market,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Chief Economist. “As that pent-up demand fades, sales will likely come down from their current record pace, albeit to a still robust level of activity as record-low mortgage rates and a recovering economy continue to drive sales.”

On the supply side, active listings remain low due to hesitation on the part of sellers to list during the pandemic. Some additional supply may come online following the end of mortgage deferral programs, but given the tightness of market conditions, that supply is unlikely to be disruptive. We are forecasting the provincial MLS® average price to finish the year up 9.9 per cent and to increase a further 2.6 per cent in 2021.

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Canadian real GDP grew 1.2 per cent in August, following a 3.1 per cent increase in July.  That is the fourth consecutive monthly increase in GDP following the steepest contraction of the Canadian economy on record. The overall level of economic output remains about 5 per cent below its per-pandemic level.

Third quarter real GDP growth is currently tracking at close to 10 per cent, or about 46 per cent on a quarterly annualized basis.  From there, we anticipate a strong, albeit slower rate of growth as the economy heals and enters a “recuperation phase.”  Like the Bank of Canada, we do not expect slack in the economy to be fully absorbed until around 2023, which, given the Bank's guidance earlier this week, means that interest rates will remain historically low for quite sometime.  Those low rates will continue to provide a significant boost to an already strong BC housing market. 

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The Bank of Canada held its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, though re-calibrated to target longer-term bonds and slightly scaled back from purchasing $5 billion per week in Government of Canada bonds to $4 billion per week. The Bank also reiterated forward guidance on future interests moves, committing to holding the policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation is sustainably trending at 2 per cent.   In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the Canadian economy is recovering, though at a highly uneven rate, with the pandemic particularly affecting low-income workers.  Overall, the Bank expects a decline in Canadian real GDP of 5.5 per cent this year, before growing 4 per cent next year. Inflation is expected to remain below its 2 per cent target through 2022.


With the Bank committing to holding its policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed, and continuing its quantitative easing program of asset purchases, Canadian mortgage rates should remain at current historical lows for quite some time. Given the Bank's forward guidance on interest rates and its projection for inflation, those low rates are anticipated to remain in place until 2023, providing a significant boost to an already strong BC housing market.

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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.5% in September year-over-year, up from the previous month's increase of 0.1%. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.0%. Prices rose in six of eight components year-over-year with notable increases in shelter (1.7%), food (1.6%), and health/personal care (1.6%), while prices declined for clothing/footwear (-4.1%) and recreation (-1.2%). Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation was flat in September, averaging 1.7%.

Regionally, the CPI was positive in seven provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 0.4% in September year-over-year, up from August's increase of 0.2%. Prices continued to rise for health/personal care (3.1%), shelter (1.6%), food (1.4%), and alcohol/tobacco/cannabis (1.3%). In contrast, downward price pressures were ongoing in gas (-13.4%), clothing/footwear (-3.5%), and recreation (-2.9%).

As some provinces such as Ontario and Quebec have reinstated stricter containment measures, Canadian inflation is expected to continue to be weak. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low.

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Canadian real GDP grew 3 per cent in July, following a record 6.5 per cent increase in June.  However, even after three consecutive months of strong growth, the Canadian economy remains about 6 per cent below its pre-pandemic level of output.  All 20 Canadian industrial sectors posted increases in July, with the real estate sector surpassing its pre-pandemic level of GDP.

Statistics Canada preliminary estimate for August real GDP growth is 1 per cent, which means that third quarter real GDP growth is currently tracking at close to 10 per cent, or about 40 per cent on a quarterly annualized basis.  Still, even that unprecedented level of growth would still leave the Canadian economy about 4 per cent below its pre-pandemic level. From there, we anticipate a strong, albeit slower rate of growth as the economy heals and enters a “recuperation phase.”
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Retail sales rose for the third consecutive month in July by 0.6% on a seasonally-adjusted basis, close to Statistic Canada's preliminary estimate of 0.7%. This marks a deceleration from the 23% rise in June and a 21% rise in May, as stores were reopening. Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, led by higher sales at auto dealers and at gas stations. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales declined by 1.2%. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 5%.    

Sales were up in five provinces in July, the most notable increases were in BC, Manitoba, and Alberta. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were up by 2.1% ($7.6 billion) and by 0.9% ($3.4 billion) in Vancouver. Retail sales were up in the majority of subsectors, except in electronics/appliances and at auto dealers.  

Growth in e-commerce sales continued to slow in July, up by 63% year-over-year, following a 71% rise in the previous month. The slowdown is a result of the expansion of the reopening of physical stores. In July, e-commerce sales totaled $2.8 billion, accounting for 4.8% of total retails sales, down from 5% in the previous month. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
Early estimates provided by Statistics Canada for August suggest that retail sales increased by 1.1%. Overall, the recovery in retail sales has been V-shaped with pent-up demand largely dissipated. Government support programs and low interest rates will continue to support retail spending. However, elevated unemployment levels, uncertainty around the continuation of deferral programs, and rising COVID-19 cases could also pose challenges going forward. 

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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.1% in August year-over-year, matching last month's increase. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 0.6%. Prices rose in five of eight components year-over-year with notable increases in food, shelter, and personal care, while prices continued to fall for transportation, clothing and footwear, and recreation. The Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation rose by 0.1 percentage points, averaging 1.7% in August.

Regionally, the CPI was positive in five provinces. In BC, CPI rose by 0.2% in August year-over-year, matching last month's increase. Prices continued to rise for alcohol/tobacco/cannabis, food, shelter, household furnishings, and personal care. The increase in personal care was mainly due to higher prices for haircuts. In contrast, downward price pressures were ongoing in recreation, gas, transportation, and clothing and footwear.

As some provinces begin to re-visit containment measures seen earlier in the pandemic, inflation is expected to continue to be weak. In this environment, the Bank of Canada will keep interest rates low.

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US Real GDP Growth (Q4'2016) - January 27, 2017


US real GDP growth registered a weaker than expected 1.9 per cent growth the final quarter of 2016, and 1.6 per cent growth for the year as a whole.  Growth was pulled lower by a widening US trade deficit, while consumer demand and business investment were robust. Most economists expect US economic growth to accelerate to about 2.2 per cent in 2017.

The pace of economic growth in the United States could be a key determinant in the BC housing market this year. While faster US growth is generally positive for the BC economy, a stronger pace of growth along with a possibly significant shift in the fiscal outlook due to the large tax cuts and ramped-up spending plans of the Trump administration, is already translating to rising long-term interest rates as markets anticipate higher inflation and consequent monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve. In turn, that uptrend in rates is putting pressure on Canadian mortgage rates, with many lenders increasing their best offered rates. 

 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.



Canadian Retail Sales - January 20, 2017


Canadian retail sales inched 0.2 per cent higher in November.  Sales were higher in just 5 of 11 sub-sectors, with motor vehicle and parts dealers and building materials supplies leading the way.  E-commerce sales accounted for 3 per cent of total retail sales, the highest proportion to date in 2016.  Given today's data,  we are currently tracking fourth quarter Canadian real GDP growth at 1.5 per cent. 

In BC, retail sales were down 0.7 per cent on a monthly basis, but were 5.5 per cent higher year-over-year.  Year-to-date, retail sales in the province are up 6.5 per cent. 


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.


Canadian Manufacturing Sales - January 19, 2017


Canadian manufacturing sales rose 1.5 per cent in November after posting a moderate decline the previous month.  Sales were higher in 14 of 21 manufacturing sub-sectors. After adjusting for inflation, the total volume of sales was 1.2 per cent higher. 

In BC, where the manufacturing sector is a significant employer and a key driver of economic growth, sales were up 2.4 per cent on a monthly basis and 9.2 per cent year-over-year. The manufacturing sector has been on a significant upswing after a slow first half with sales posting nearly 8 per cent growth over the second half of the year. That growth is adding to already strong momentum in other sectors and supporting housing demand across BC communities where manufacturing, particularly of forestry products, is an important driver of local economic activity. 


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.


Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement - January 18, 2017


The Bank of Canada announced this morning that it is holding the target for its overnight rate at 0.5 per cent. In the press release accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that uncertainty in the global outlook, particularly with regard to policies in the United States, is undiminished. The Canadian economy is forecast to grow 2.1 per cent in both 2017 and 2018, implying the Canadian economy will return to full capacity in mid-2018.  On inflation, the Bank noted that it continued to be lower than expected but should return to it 2 per cent target in coming months.

Political uncertainty in the United States will likely govern the direction of both policy rates and long-term bond yields over the next year. The interest rate on 5-year government of Canada bonds has risen to its highest point in a year, which is adding upward pressure to mortgage rates offered by Canadian lenders.  While the Canadian economy is forecast to post steady growth in 2017, overall slack in the Canadian economy remains persistent.  Without a significant uptick in economic growth, inflation will likely continue to trend at or below the Bank's 2 per cent target.  That, along with lingering uncertainty, will keep the Bank sidelined through 2017 with a chance of lowering its target rate should current downside risks to the economy become realized.


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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