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Another strong increase in the Composite Index in March
In March the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was up 0.6% from the previous month. As was the case in February, this was double the average March rise of the last 10 years. Leading the advance were the markets of Ottawa-Gatineau (1.1%), Vancouver (1.0%) and Toronto (0.9%). Trailing the countrywide average were rises for Hamilton (0.4%), Quebec City (0.3%), Montreal (0.2%) and Halifax (0.1%). The index for Victoria was essentially flat. Down from the previous month were Calgary (0.1%), Edmonton (0.6%) and Winnipeg (0.8%). The index for Vancouver has now gone six months without a decline. Its previous run of 14 straight months without a rise seems to be definitely over, especially since the Vancouver resale market has returned to balance as measured by ratio of listings to sales. The index for Victoria has move little over the last seven months. Weakness persists in the Prairies: the indexes for Calgary and Winnipeg have declined in five of the last six months, that for Edmonton in four. In central and eastern Canada the story is different. The index for Ottawa-Gatineau has not declined in any of the last 12 months, that for Toronto in only one and those for Montreal, Hamilton and Halifax in two. All of these last five markets were at a historical peak in March.
Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target and unveils new market operations
The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at percent, which the Bank considers its effective lower bound. The Bank Rate is correspondingly percent and the deposit rate is percent. The Bank also announced new measures to provide additional support to Canadas financial system. The necessary efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a sudden and deep contraction in economic activity and employment worldwide. In financial markets, this has driven a flight to safety and a sharp repricing of a wide range of assets. It has also pushed down prices for commodities, especially oil. In this environment, the Canadian dollar has depreciated since January, although by less than many other currencies. The sudden halt in global activity will be followed by regional recoveries at different times, depending on the duration and severity of the outbreak in each region. This means that the global economic recovery, when it comes, could be protracted and uneven. The Canadian economy was in a solid position ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak, but has since been hit by widespread shutdowns and lower oil prices. One early measure of the extent of the damage was an unprecedented drop in employment in March, with more than one million jobs lost across Canada. Many more workers reported shorter hours, and by early April some six million Canadians had applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.