15 Jun

Canadian Home Sales Slow Again in May, Shifting To A Buyers Market in GTA – June 15 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

JUNE 15 2022

Housing Market Correction Gains Steam in May

Statistics released today 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% monthly (m/m). National home sales fell by 8.6% between April and May, building on April's decline, leaving monthly activity at pre-COVID levels recorded in the second half of 2019. (see chart below).

Sales were down in three-quarters of all local markets, led by many larger census metropolitan areas (CMAs), including those in the Lower Mainland, Calgary, Edmonton, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ottawa. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in May 2022 came in 21.7% below the record for that month set last year. At a little over 50,000 units sold, the May 2022 sales figure was very close to the 10-year average for that month.

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes climbed 4.5% month-over-month in May. The monthly increase was influenced by a jump in new supply in Montreal, while new listings in the GTA posted a modest decline.

With sales down and new listings up in May, the sales-to-new listings ratio eased back to 57.5% -- its lowest level since April 2019. It was also not far off the long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio of 55.1%.

Almost three-quarters 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 May 2022 – the most significant number since the fall of 2019. A little less than one quarter was in seller’s market territory, while a small handful was in buyer’s market territory.

There were 2.7 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of May 2022, still historically low but up by a month from the tightest conditions ever recorded just six months ago. 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.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) edged down 0.8% m/m in May 2022, following a 1.1% decline in April.

Regionally, most of the monthly declines were in markets in Ontario. While most Ontario markets saw prices dip in May, prices rose in cottage country.

Prices rose in Vancouver Island but were flat in Greater Vancouver. Prices fell modestly in the Fraser Valley and posted a larger decline in Chilliwack. Prices were more or less unchanged across the Prairies save for small gains in Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, Quebec, New Brunswick and PEI continued to outperform, while prices in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador edged up slightly.

The non-seasonally adjusted Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was still up by 19.8% y/y in May. However, this posted a marked slowdown from the near-30% record increases logged in January and February.

Bottom Line

The three-month slide in Canadian home sales has now returned sales to pre-COVID levels after running roughly 3% above that level for the  18 months through February. The most significant slowdown has occurred in Ontario, especially outside the core Toronto region. New listings have risen, but inventories remain low. The sales-to-new listings ratio has fallen sharply to 57.5%, its lowest level since early 2019. Prices have fallen moderately, taking the year-over-year gain down to 19.8% from 23.6% y/y in April. The average home price is now up just 3.4% y/y, which is down 11% from the February peak. 

Toronto is cooling, but the suburbs are cooling even faster, while the exurbs (think London, Woodstock, Barrie) are seeing the sharpest shifts. The sales-to-new listings ratio for all of Ontario sunk below 50%, a level we've only seen during the 2009 recession and the dark days of the early 1990s. Elsewhere, Alberta remains relatively tight, albeit with stalling prices, while Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal are mixed between the extremes.

Interest rates have risen sharply from their COVID-induced lows. Mortgage rates have risen sharply from lows of about 1.5% to nearly 5% for 5-year fixed rates. Variable mortgage rates are on their way to 4%-to-4.5% by yearend. By late summer, any still-favourable rate holds will be gone, and this new interest-rate reality will fully sink in. Stress tests at the contract rate plus 200 bps are now nearing 7%; they'll also be pushing above 5.25% in the variable space.

Many potential Canadian homebuyers now expect home prices to continue to fall in some regions. This shift in psychology will also contribute to the housing correction. In a separate report, CMHC reported that housing starts increased sharply in May. Homebuilding is at its most robust pace on record, going back to the 1950s. Given the record-low unemployment rate, home construction is constrained by record-high job vacancies in the sector, shortages of materials, and rising wage rates. Construction costs have risen sharply in the past year. With higher mortgage rates in the future, the deceleration in sales could lead to slower housing starts next year. 

Finally, the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by 75 bps today, intensifying the inflation fight. This opens the door for a 75 bps hike by the Bank of Canada when it meets again on July 13. It is now widely expected that the US policy rate, the overnight fed funds rate will exceed 4% by yearend. Canada's central bank had already announced its intention to hike the overnight rate here more forcefully and has suggested that it will take an overnight rate above 3% to break the back of inflation. The overnight rate now is only 1.5%. A further correction in housing is likely in the coming months. As the economy's most interest-sensitive sector, housing is the key transmission mechanism for tighter monetary policy to slow the economy and bring inflation under control.

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

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10 Jun

Another Red-Hot Employment Report in Canada – June 10 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

JUNE 10 2022

Canadian Labour Market Is Much Too Tight–Adds To Inflation Pressure

Today’s Labour Market Survey for May 2022 showed that hiring continued at a rapid pace last month in an increasingly tight labour market, driving the jobless rate to another record low and fueling a sharp acceleration in wage gains. The economy added 39,000 jobs in May, surpassing expectations. The unemployment rate fell to 5.1%, far below the noninflationary rate of joblessness. Job vacancies are at a record high, and wage inflation accelerated to 3.9%, from the 3.2% pace posted in April.

Another sign of a red-hot jobs market was a shift from part-time employment to full-time. Full-time employment jumped by 135,400, with part-time jobs down by 95,800.

The excess supply of jobs continues to push wages higher and will undoubtedly cause the Bank of Canada to continue to hike rates aggressively. The Governing Council of the Bank will release their next decision on July 13, as money market traders now see an even chance that the central bank will increase the overnight policy rate by 75 bps next month.

The employment rate, which measures the percentage of the population aged 15 years and older that has a job, increased to almost 62% in May, from 59.4% cent a year earlier.

Bottom Line

In other relevant news today, the US released its CPI inflation report for May showing inflation accelerated to a whopping 8.6%, up from 8.3% in April. Investors increased bets on a 75 bp hike after the release showing inflation is at a fresh 40-year high. Both headline and core inflation rose more than expected.

Market rates shot up on today’s news, with the Canadian 5-year government bond yield now at 3.3%.

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

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1 Jun

The Bank of Canada Hikes Rates Again By 50 bps – June 1 2022

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Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

JUNE 1 2022

Another Jumbo Rate Hike, Signalling More To Come

The Governing Council of the Bank of Canada raised the overnight policy rate by a full 50 basis points once again today, marking the third rate hike this year. The two back-to-back half-point increases are without precedent, but so were the dramatic pandemic rate cuts in the spring of 2020. Indeed, with the surge in Canadian inflation to 6.8% in April, the Bank of Canada is still behind the curve. The chart below shows that inflation remains well above the Bank’s forecasts. Today’s press release suggests they now estimate that inflation rose again in May and could well accelerate further. 

Today’s policy statement emphasized that “As pervasive input price pressures feed through into consumer prices, inflation continues to broaden, with core measures of inflation ranging between 3.2% and 5.1%. Almost 70% of CPI categories now show inflation above 3%. The risk of elevated inflation becoming entrenched has risen. The Bank will use its monetary policy tools to return inflation to target and keep inflation expectations well anchored.”

“The increase in global inflation is occurring as the global economy slows. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, China’s COVID-related lockdowns, and ongoing supply disruptions are all weighing on activity and boosting inflation. The war has increased uncertainty and is putting further upward pressure on prices for energy and agricultural commodities. This is dampening the outlook, particularly in Europe. In the United States, private domestic demand remains robust, despite the economy contracting in the first quarter of 2022.”

The Bank said that “Canadian economic activity is strong and the economy is clearly operating in excess demand. National accounts data for the first quarter of 2022 showed GDP growth of 3.1 percent, in line with the Bank’s April Monetary Policy Report (MPR) projection. Job vacancies are elevated, companies are reporting widespread labour shortages, and wage growth has been picking up and broadening across sectors. Housing market activity is moderating from exceptionally high levels. With consumer spending in Canada remaining robust and exports anticipated to strengthen, growth in the second quarter is expected to be solid.”

Bottom Line

The Bank of Canada couldn’t be more forthright. The concluding paragraph of the policy statement is as follows: “With the economy in excess demand, and inflation persisting well above target and expected to move higher in the near term, the Governing Council continues to judge that interest rates will need to rise further. The policy interest rate remains the Bank’s primary monetary policy instrument, with quantitative tightening acting as a complementary tool. The pace of further increases in the policy rate will be guided by the Bank’s ongoing assessment of the economy and inflation, and the Governing Council is prepared to act more forcefully if needed to meet its commitment to achieve the 2% inflation target.”

The Bank of Canada has told us we should expect at least another 50 bps rate hike when they meet again on July 13. It could even be 75 bps if inflation shows no sign of decelerating. The Bank estimates that the overnight rate’s neutral (noninflationary) level is  2%-to-3%. Traders currently expect the policy rate to end the year at roughly 3%. 

This was a very hawkish policy statement. The central bank is defending its credibility and will undoubtedly continue to tighten monetary policy aggressively.

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

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