Canadian seasonally-adjusted retail sales rose 1.6% to $57.6 billion in October. The rise was driven by a rebound in sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+2.2%) as new car sales (+2.8%) recovered from previous declines. The effects of the semiconductor shortage which had curtailed sales of new cars eased somewhat in October. Preliminary estimates, based on roughly 40.9% of respondents reporting so far to Statistics Canada, indicate that retail sales rose 1.2% in November. 

In BC, seasonally-adjusted sales rose 0.3% in October. Compared to the same month last year, retail sales were up 1.6% in the province. Clothing sales rose the largest amount on a year-over-year basis in October, up 13.3%. In the Greater Vancouver region, sales rose 1.5% month-over-month and were up 10.8% year-over-year. 

In October, Canadian e-commerce sales rose from $3.2 billion to $3.3 billion. As a result, e-commerce increased from 5.4% of total retail sales in August to 5.5% in October. This percentage is lower than at most points since the onset of the pandemic but is elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels. 
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A lot has changed in the Canadian mortgage market in a very short period of time. The benchmark five-year government of Canada bond yield raced higher in October, nearly doubling in just under a month as financial markets and central banks once again pivoted their attention from the pandemic back to inflation. Indeed, a more hawkish-sounding Bank of Canada ended its Quantitative Easing program and signaled that its first rate increase may now occur in the middle of 2022, or about three-to-six months earlier than previously expected. These changes in the Bank's policy and language have prompted a dramatic market reassessment of both the timing and number of rate increases that may occur over the next year.

As a result of rising cost of capital for banks, Canadian fixed mortgages are also on the rise. The average five-year fixed rate increased from just over 2 per cent in September to 2.6 per cent currently. Based on our outlook for economic growth and inflation, as well as the Bank of Canada's new timetable for tightening monetary policy, we anticipate that the average five-year fixed rate will return to its pre-pandemic level of 3 per cent by the fourth quarter of 2022. Variable rates are forecast to rise along with the first Bank of Canada rate increase early in the third quarter of next year. The Bank considers its equilibrium overnight rate to be between 1.75 and 2.75 per cent. However, in Canada's last tightening cycle in 2018, the Bank was only able to bring its overnight rate to the lower end of that range before the economy showed signs of weakness. Two rate increases next year would bring the overnight rate to 0.75 per cent and implies a variable rate of about 2 per cent by the end of next year.

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Vancouver, BC – December 15, 2021. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 9,159 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in November 2021, a decrease of 3.4 per cent from November 2020. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $993,922, a 22.1 per cent increase from $814,310 recorded in November 2020. Total sales dollar volume was $9.1 billion, a 17.9 per cent increase from the same time last year. 

“Provincial MLS® home sales reached a new annual record in November with still one month to go in 2021,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Home sales have already surpassed the previous annual record of 112,425 units set in 2016.” 

Total active residential listings continued to tumbler lower, falling 39 per cent year-over-year to a record low for the province. Active listings are now about half of the level reached prior to the pandemic. 

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume is up 63.6 per cent to $108.7 billion compared to the same period in 2020. Residential unit sales were up 37.7 per cent to 117,973 units, while the average MLS® residential price was up 18.8 per cent to $921,806.
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Canadian prices, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose 4.7% on a year-over-year basis in November, matching the rate in October. On a month-over-month basis, the CPI was up 0.2% in November. The Bank of Canada's preferred measures of core inflation (which use techniques to strip out volatile elements) rose an average of 2.7% year-over-year in November. Higher prices for gasoline (+43.6%), furniture (+8.7%) and food (+4.4%) were the main drivers of growth in the headline CPI. Continuing supply-chain difficulties continued contributing to price gains, but the flooding in BC had no effect as data was collected prior to the floods in November. In BC, consumer prices were up 0.2% month-over-month, and up 3.3% on a year-over-year basis. 

Inflation continues to run ahead of the Bank of Canada's 2 per cent target. The driving force behind rising prices in November year-over-year was a 10% increase in transportation costs due to rising gasoline prices. Inflation from shelter costs was up month-over-month as home prices trended higher after flattening out over the summer. Those categories account for about 65% of the year-over-year rise in consumer prices in November. We expect this elevated level of inflation to persist through next year before prices begin moderating. The Bank of Canada is clearly concerned about rising consumer prices and have signaled that it will begin raising its policy rate in the second or third quarter of 2022.
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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 occur in the middle quarters of 2022. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that recent economic indicators signal considerable momentum to end 2021, but the Omicron COVID-19 variant has injected renewed uncertainty into the global economy and flooding in British Columbia could weigh on growth in the short-term by compounding supply chain issues and reducing demand for some services. The Bank still expects inflation to ease back to its 2 per cent target by the second half of next year.

We expect the Bank will raise its overnight rate two times next year, followed by quarterly increases in 2023, bringing the overnight rate back to its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2023. It is possible that the Bank may act earlier or more aggressively next year, however the realities and uncertainties of the pandemic are still very much a presence in the global economy, particularly with the emergence of new COVID-19 variant. Consequently, it would not be surprising if the Bank of Canada had to delay its current expected schedule of rate increases.
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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. 


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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. 


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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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