Bank Of Canada Drops Key Lending Rates

January 25th, 2015

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is lowering its target for the overnight rate by one-quarter of one percentage point to 3/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/2 per cent. This decision is in response to the recent sharp drop in oil prices, which will be negative for growth and underlying inflation in Canada.

Inflation has remained close to the 2 per cent target in recent quarters. Core inflation has been temporarily boosted by sector-specific factors and the pass-through effects of the lower Canadian dollar, which are offsetting disinflationary pressures from slack in the economy and competition in the retail sector. Total CPI inflation is starting to reflect the fall in oil prices.

Oil’s sharp decline in the past six months is expected to boost global economic growth, especially in the United States, while widening the divergences among economies. Persistent headwinds from deleveraging and lingering uncertainty will influence the extent to which some oil-importing countries benefit from lower prices. The Bank’s base-case projection assumes oil prices around US$60 per barrel. Prices are currently lower but our belief is that prices over the medium term are likely to be higher.

The oil price shock is occurring against a backdrop of solid and more broadly-based growth in Canada in recent quarters. Outside the energy sector, we are beginning to see the anticipated sequence of increased foreign demand, stronger exports, improved business confidence and investment, and employment growth. However, there is considerable uncertainty about the speed with which this sequence will evolve and how it will be affected by the drop in oil prices. Business investment in the energy-producing sector will decline. Canada’s weaker terms of trade will have an adverse impact on incomes and wealth, reducing domestic demand growth.

Although there is considerable uncertainty around the outlook, the Bank is projecting real GDP growth will slow to about 1 1/2 per cent and the output gap to widen in the first half of 2015. The negative impact of lower oil prices will gradually be mitigated by a stronger U.S. economy, a weaker Canadian dollar, and the Bank’s monetary policy response. The Bank expects Canada’s economy to gradually strengthen in the second half of this year, with real GDP growth averaging 2.1 per cent in 2015 and 2.4 per cent in 2016. The economy is expected to return to full capacity around the end of 2016, a little later than was expected in October.

Weaker oil prices will pull down the inflation profile. Total CPI inflation is projected to be temporarily below the inflation-control range during 2015, moving back up to target the following year. Underlying inflation will ease in the near term but then return gradually to 2 per cent over the projection horizon.

The oil price shock increases both downside risks to the inflation profile and financial stability risks. The Bank’s policy action is intended to provide insurance against these risks, support the sectoral adjustment needed to strengthen investment and growth, and bring the Canadian economy back to full capacity and inflation to target within the projection horizon.

Toronto Real Estate Numbers Up In 2014!

January 12th, 2015

Toronto Real Estate Board President Paul Etherington announced that Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 92,867 residential sales through the TorontoMLS system in 2014, including 4,446 in December. The calendar year 2014 sales result represented a 6.7 per cent increase over the 2013 sales figure of 87,049 and was just short of the record set in 2007.

“TREB’s 2014 sales figures are a testament to the importance Greater Toronto Area households continue to place on home ownership. GTA households realize that home purchases have been a quality long-term investment. While home prices certainly increased substantially in 2014, the purchase of an average priced home remained affordable, in terms of the average household’s ability to comfortably cover their monthly mortgage payments,” said Mr. Etherington.

The average selling price continued to grow on a year-over-year basis in calendar year 2014, with an 8.4 per cent increase over calendar year 2013 to $566,726. This included a seven per cent increase in the December 2014 average selling price to $556,602. Throughout 2014, annual increases in the average selling price and the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark were consistently reported on a monthly basis for most market segments, from detached homes through to condominium apartments.

“The strong price growth we experienced in 2014 can be explained with two words: listings shortage. The constrained supply of listings was especially evident for low-rise home types like singles, semis and town houses. The number of households looking to purchase these home types increased, while the number of homes from which they could choose decreased. This situation resulted in more competition between buyers and more aggressive offers,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.