Stats Centre Reports for Housing in Great Vancouver

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Canadian Monthly GDP (February) – April, 2018

The Canadian economy bounced back in February after a down month in January. Real GDP grew 0.4 per cent on a monthly basis in February, led by higher output in the manufacturing and construction sector as well as a rebound in mining and oil and gas extraction. The output of offices of real estate agents and brokers across Canada fell for a second consecutive month due to the ongoing impact of the B20 stress test.

Given today’s release, growth in the Canadian economy is tracking at just under 2 per cent for the first quarter of 2018. Continued above trend growth and rising inflation signal further interest rates increases by the Bank of Canada, possibly as soon as the end of May.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

US Real GDP Growth – April, 2018

US real GDP growth registered 2.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, the slowest pace in a year due to a pullback in spending by households that saw consumer spending post its lowest growth in five years. On the positive side, business investment was solid and exports rose nearly 5 per cent. However, US imports of goods and services from other countries grew only 2.6 per cent.

While steady growth in the United States is generally good news for the BC economy, slow growth in US imports and the ad-hoc approach to trade policy under the current administration still present a significant risk for BC’s important export sector.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

Canadian Inflation and Retail Sales – April, 2018

Canadian retail sales increased 0.4 per cent on monthly in basis in February and were 3.5 per cent higher year-over-year. Sales were higher in only 4 of 11 sub-sectors representing less than half of total retail trade. With today’s data, and all other data available thus far for the first quarter, we are tracking Canadian economic growth at about 1.6 per cent for the first quarter of 2018. In BC, retail sales were up 0.4 per cent on a monthly basis and 5.9 per cent year-over-year. Retail sales in the province continue to moderate back to historical trend after growing close to 10 per cent in 2017.

Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), increased again in March as prices rose 2.3 per cent year-over-year, up from 2.2 per cent in February. The Bank of Canada’s three measures of trend inflation were relatively unchanged at around 2 per cent. In BC, provincial consumer price inflation was 2.6 per cent in the 12 months to March. Rising inflation and an economy operating at capacity signals further Bank of Canada tightening, potentially as soon as the next interest rate decision on May 30.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement – April, 2018

The Bank of Canada decided to leave the target for the overnight policy rate unchanged at 1.25 per cent this morning. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that inflation is forecast to be slightly higher in 2018 than originally expected but will return to the Bank’s 2 per cent target once the impact of higher gas prices and minimum wage increases dissipate. While the mortgage stress test has been a contributor to weaker growth in the first quarter of 2018, the Bank expects the economy to be operating at above potential over the next three years, growing at an average rate of about 2 per cent.

Although the Bank held steady today, with inflation rising to the Bank’s two per cent target and many Canadian firms operating at or near capacity, interest rates are very likely headed higher this year. Headwinds from the trade sector have moderated, energy prices are higher and growth for the first quarter appears to be firming after a slow start. Given those trends, the Bank is likely to adjust its policy rate higher in coming months. That will translate to higher mortgage rates which, combined with the erosion of purchasing power from the mortgage stress test, will temper housing demand in 2018.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.