18 May

Canadian Inflation Beats Expectations – May 18 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MAY 18 2022

Canadian Inflation Shows No Signs Of Abating

Inflation at 6.8% is unmitigated bad news. The Bank of Canada looks flat-footed again, having forecast that Inflation would be at least a full percentage point lower by now. What’s worse, inflation looks likely to rise again this month given the surge in gasoline prices from April to May.

Today’s report raises the urgency for policymakers to withdraw stimulus from the economy quickly. Look for another 50 bp rate hike on June 1 and again in July. Markets are pricing in an overnight rate as high as 3% by the end of the year. It is currently at 1%. 

In April, Canadian consumer prices rose 6.8% y/y, up slightly from March’s 6.7% pace despite a slowdown in the pace of gasoline inflation. The April inflation rise was driven mainly by food and shelter prices. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose 5.8% in April, after a 5.5% gain in March. This was the fastest pace since the introduction of the all-items excluding gasoline special aggregate in 1999.

Since late February, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has boosted energy, commodity, and, most notably, food prices.

The Canadian economy’s strength has added to inflation pressure. The unemployment rate is at a record low. Average hourly wages rose 3.3% y/y last month. With prices rising faster than wages, Canadian families are experiencing reduced purchasing power.

In April, Canadians paid 9.7% more for food purchased from stores compared with April 2021. This rise, which exceeded 5% for the fifth month in a row, was the most significant increase since September 1981.

In April, shelter costs rose 7.4% y/y, the fastest pace since June 1983, following a 6.8% increase in March. Higher prices for energy sources used to heat homes, such as natural gas (+22.2%) and fuel oil and other fuels (+64.4%), contributed to the rise.

Reflecting the dynamic Canadian housing market, homeowners’ replacement cost (+13.0%) is related to the price of new homes and other owned accommodation expenses (+17.2%), which include commissions on the sale of real estate; both rose sharply in April.

The mortgage interest cost Index (+0.2%) increased on a m/m basis for the first time since April 2020.

Rent prices increased in April (+4.5%) compared with the same month in 2021. The rent hike was mostly driven by price increases in Canada’s most populous provinces: Ontario (+5.3%), Quebec (+4.3%) and British Columbia (+6.4%).

While monthly, Inflation slowed in April (0.6%) compared to March (1.4%), the surge in gasoline price in May portends continued high Inflation in next month’s CPI report.

Bottom Line

Bloomberg News reported this morning that “The inflation surge has made the Bank of Canada a target of criticism, with some politicians accusing Macklem of moving too slowly. Immediately after the inflation data was published, Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre released a statement reiterating he plans to fire Macklem should he ever win power.”  

The pressure is on for more rate hikes. Central banks all over the world are under similar pressure. Central bank tightening will slow demand, as we have seen already in the Canadian housing data for March and April. It does not address the supply disruptions that are the root cause of much of the inflation pressure.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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17 May

Canadian Home Sales Slow As Mortgage Rates Rise – May 17 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MAY 17 2022

Canadian Housing Market Feels The Pinch of Higher Rates

Statistics released yesterday by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that the slowdown that began in March in response to higher interest rates has broadened. In April, national home sales dropped by 12.6% on a month-over-month (m/m) basis. The decline placed the monthly activity at its lowest level since the summer of 2020 (see chart below).

While the national decline was led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) simply because of its size, sales were down in 80% of local markets, with most other large markets posting double-digit month-over-month declines in April. The exceptions were Victoria, Montreal and Halifax-Dartmouth, where sales edged up slightly.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in April 2022 came in 25.7% below the record for that month set last year. As has been the case since last summer, it was still the third-highest April sales figure ever behind 2021 and 2016.

Jill Oudil, Chair of CREA, said, “Following a record-breaking couple of years, housing markets in many parts of Canada have cooled off pretty sharply over the last two months, in line with a jump in interest rates and buyer fatigue. For buyers, this slowdown could mean more time to consider options in the market. For sellers, it could necessitate a return to more traditional marketing strategies.”

“After 12 years of ‘higher interest rates are just around the corner,’ here they are,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist. “But it’s less about what the Bank of Canada has done so far. It’s about a pretty steep pace of continued tightening that markets expect to play out over the balance of the year because that is already being factored into fixed mortgage rates. Of course, those have, for that very reason, been on the rise since the beginning of 2021, so why the big market reaction only now? It’s likely because typical discounted 5-year fixed rates have, in the space of a month, gone from the low 3% range to the low 4% range. The stress test is the higher of 5.25% or the contract rate plus 2%. For fixed borrowers, the stress test has just moved from 5.25% to the low 6% range – close to a 1% increase in a month! It won’t take much more movement by the Bank of Canada for this to start to affect the variable space as well”.

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes edged back by 2.2% on a month-over-month basis in April. The slight monthly decline resulted from a relatively even split between markets where listings rose and those where they fell. Notable declines were seen in the Lower Mainland and Calgary, while listings increased in Victoria and Edmonton.

With sales falling by more than new listings in April, the sales-to-new listings ratio eased back to 66.5% – its lowest level since June 2020. This reading is right on the border between what would constitute a seller’s and a balanced market. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 55.2%.

More than half of local markets were balanced based on the sales-to-new listings ratio being between one standard deviation above or below the long-term average in April 2022. A little less than half were in seller’s market territory.

There were 2.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of April 2022, still historically very low but up from slightly lower readings in the previous eight months. The long-term average for this measure is a little over five months.

Home Prices

The non-seasonally adjusted Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was still up by 23.8% on a year-over-year basis in April, although this was a marked slowdown from the near-30% record increase logged just two months earlier.

Bottom Line

The fever broke in the Canadian housing market last month. Nevertheless, despite the sizeable two-month slide in sales, activity is still almost 10% above pre-COVID levels and the raw April sales tally was still one of the highest on record.

Markets in Ontario are weakening most, significantly further outside the core of Toronto. Sales in the province slid 21% in April and are now in line with pre-pandemic activity levels. The market balance has gone from drum tight with “not enough supply” to one that resembles the 2017-19 correction period. Elsewhere, Vancouver and Montreal look better with relatively balanced markets, while others like Alberta and parts of Atlantic Canada remain pretty strong.

The Bank of Canada will likely hike interest rates by another 50 bps on June 1.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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10 May

April home sales slid in most metro areas, but prices held their ground…for now – May 10 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MAY 10 2022

Housing data from April showed home sales were down in most major metro markets in the country, with Toronto sales leading the way, down over 41% year-over-year.

Average prices, meanwhile, were down on a monthly basis in the Greater Toronto Area, but continued to rise in most other urban markets outside of Ontario.

The GTA saw the largest retreat in prices, which were down 3.5% from March, but still up 15% year-over-year. Ottawa also saw prices dip 2.7% from March, but were up 13% from a year ago.

Elsewhere, Vancouver prices were still up 1% month-over-month, while Calgary saw a 1.6% increase and Montreal experienced a 2.5% rise in single-detached home prices.

While February is so far looking like a peak for national home prices, according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association, prices are still up in cities outside of Ontario.

Here’s a look at the percentage change in average headline prices in April compared to February:

  • Greater Toronto Area: -6%
  • Greater Vancouver Area: +5%
  • Montreal Census Metro Area: +5%
  • City of Calgary: +5%
  • City of Ottawa: -1%

But, as real estate analyst Ben Rabidoux of Edge Realty Analytics points out, some of these figures might be misleading.

“House price indexes do a poor job of picking up sharp inflection points. Prices are already down from the February peak in major markets, but it will take several months before this shows up in HPI data,” he wrote in his latest newsletter.

“Price gains nationally are moderating, and may register declines later this year,” he added. “Market balance is weakening, but with months of inventory still just 1.8, it will take several more months of deteriorating trends before headline prices officially print negative.”

Here’s a look at the April statistics from some of the country’s largest regional real estate boards:

Greater Toronto Area

Sales: 8,008

  • -41.2% (YoY)
  • -27% month-over-month (MoM)

MLS Home Price Index: $1,254,436

  • +15% (YoY)
  • -3.5% (MoM)

New Listings: 18,413

  • -11.7% (YoY)
  • -8.1% (MoM)

“Despite slower sales, market conditions remained tight enough to support higher selling prices compared to last year. However, in line with TRREB’s forecast, there is evidence of buyers responding to increased choice in the marketplace, with the average and benchmark prices dipping month-over-month. It is anticipated that there will be enough competition between buyers to support continued price growth relative to 2021, but the annual pace of growth will moderate in the coming months,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.

Source: Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB)


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9 May

Canadian Labour Market Tightens As Unemployment Rate Hits New Low – May 9 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MAY 9 2022

Labour Market Bumps Up Against Capacity Constraints

Job vacancies abound in many sectors, yet employers have trouble finding workers to fill those jobs and retaining workers with so many options available. As the jobless rate falls to new record lows, net new employment has slowed. This is not dissimilar to the housing market, where supply is insufficient to meet demand. Home sales are slowing in response to very low inventories, which are now compounded by rising mortgage rates.

Statistics Canada released the April Labour Force Survey this morning, reporting a slowdown in job gains to 15,300, a mere fraction of the 72,500 jump last month and the whopping 337,000 surge in February. The April figure was way below the 40,000 rise anticipated by economists.

After reaching a record low of 5.3% in March, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to a series-low of 5.2% last month, compared to the 5.7% level posted before the pandemic. There is considerable excess demand for workers as the economy failed to produce any new growth in labour supply. In April, hours worked declined 1.9%, reflecting a jump in Covid-related absences and disability.

Increases in employment in professional, scientific and technical services and public administration were offset by construction and retail trade declines. These two sectors are reporting significant labour shortages. The federal government hopes to double the housing supply over the next decade, but to do so, homebuilders need many more construction workers.

More people worked in the Atlantic region and Alberta, while employment fell in Quebec. At the national level, employment gains among core-aged women aged 25 to 54 were offset by a decrease among core-age men.

Average hourly wages were up 3.3% (+$0.99 to $31.06) year over year, similar to the growth observed in March (+$1.03; +3.4%). Since consumer prices have risen 6.7% year-over-year, wages are not keeping up with inflation.

Many signs have pointed to an increasingly tight labour market in recent months. In addition to increases in full-time work, one aspect of this tightening has been a decrease in part-time workers reporting that they would prefer full-time employment. The involuntary part-time employment rate fell to 15.7% in April 2022, the lowest level on record. The involuntary part-time rate had been elevated over the first 18 months of the pandemic and peaked at 26.5% in August 2020, as many workers faced challenges securing full-time employment.

There are signs that wage inflation could accelerate in response to continued high job vacancy rates and tightening labour supply.

Bottom Line

Mounting inflation pressure point to another 50 basis point hike in the overnight rate when the Bank of Canada meets again on June 1. Governor Mackem has stated that a full half-point increase will be in play. That will take the policy rate up to 1.5%, compared to 1.75% immediately before the pandemic. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated supply disruptions and markedly increased key commodity prices. Canada’s economy remains strong–the strongest in the G-7–owing to the relatively large commodity sector. Markets expect the overnight rate to hit close to 3% by yearend. However, the Bank will adjust its plans based on incoming data. Preliminary evidence suggests that housing activity weakened in April due to rising mortgage rates and insufficient supply.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper


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