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Bank of Canada raises overnight rate target to 1 ½ per cent
The Bank of Canada today increased its target for the overnight rate to 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1 per cent. The Bank expects the global economy to grow by about 3 per cent in 2018 and 3 per cent in 2019, in line with the April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). The US economy is proving stronger than expected, reinforcing market expectations of higher policy rates and pushing up the US dollar. This is contributing to financial stresses in some emerging market economies. Meanwhile, oil prices have risen. Yet, the Canadian dollar is lower, reflecting broad-based US dollar strength and concerns about trade actions. The possibility of more trade protectionism is the most important threat to global prospects. Canadas economy continues to operate close to its capacity and the composition of growth is shifting. Temporary factors are causing volatility in quarterly growth rates: the Bank projects a pick-up to 2.8 per cent in the second quarter and a moderation to 1.5 per cent in the third. Household spending is being dampened by higher interest rates and tighter mortgage lending guidelines. Recent data suggest housing markets are beginning to stabilize following a weak start to 2018. Meanwhile, exports are being buoyed by strong global demand and higher commodity prices. Business investment is growing in response to solid demand growth and capacity pressures, although trade tensions are weighing on investment in some sectors. Overall, the Bank still expects average growth of close to 2 per cent over 2018-2020.
CREA Updates Resale Housing Market Forecast
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations in 2018 and 2019. Housing market fundamentals remain strong in many parts of the country. Nonetheless, many housing markets continue to struggle in the face of policy headwinds. The new mortgage stress test announced last October had been expected to cause homebuyers to rush purchases in advance of the new rules coming into effect in January and for the pull-forward of sales activity to result in fewer transactions in the first half of 2018. Evidence suggests the policy response was stronger than expected, with seasonally adjusted national home sales last December having surged to the highest level ever recorded before dropping sharply in early 2018. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) national sales figures for March, April and May are typically among the most active months in any given year. Combined sales fell to a nine-year low for the three-month period. The seasonally adjusted trend suggests sales momentum has not yet begun to rally. Interest rates are widely expected to rise further this year and next. Home sales activity is nonetheless still expected to strengthen modestly in the second half of 2018 as housing market uncertainty diminishes. Taking these factors into account, the national sales forecast has been revised downward and is now projected to decline by 11% to 459,900 units this year. The decrease almost entirely reflects weaker sales in B.C. and Ontario amid heightened housing market uncertainty, provincial policy measures, high home prices, ongoing supply shortages and this years new mortgage stress test.