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.  

Read full post

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.
Read full post

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.
Read full post

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.

Read full post

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.

The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are member’s of CREA. The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by CREA and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.