CMHC Market Commentary – Aug 20, 2012

General Denise Dunkley 22 Aug

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is adding its voice to those announcing a slowdown in Canada’s housing market.

The Crown corporation’s third quarter market review projects “measured” growth through the rest of this year and into next. CMHC sees a slowdown in housing starts and in price growth and points to “balanced” housing markets in most Canadian centres.

The CMHC forecast supports what already appears to be happening across the country. The Canadian Real Estate Association says its July figures indicate a balanced market.

Prices dropped a modest 2% from a year ago while sales remained virtually flat compared to June and new listings decreased a moderate 3.3% from June.

Still market watchers remain divided over the impact on the economy. Some point to the broader impact the housing industry has on employment and consumer spending. They say job losses from a slowdown in construction and the fact that falling home prices will have Canadians feeling less wealthy could be a serious drag on the economy. Several others see a 10% to 15% dip in home prices over the next two to three years as a modest contraction, especially compared to the vigorous and price growth experienced over the past decade.

BoC Merges Rate Announcement ~ Policy Reports

General Denise Dunkley 8 Aug

The Bank of Canada is moving its interest-rate announcements to Wednesdays from Tuesdays starting in January and merging the release of the decisions with its quarterly economic forecasts.

The last three decisions of this year will continue with the current format of interest-rate decisions on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. in Ottawa unless there is a public holiday, the central bank said today. There will be consultations to determine when on Wednesdays the rate decisions, and Monetary Policy Reports will be released together next year.

The move aims at providing more clarity to investors, who must currently read the central bank’s two key policy documents on separate dates to interpret its thinking.

“Publishing the MPR at the same time as the interest-rate announcement provides full and immediate context for the rate decision, which improves transparency and helps the bank explain its monetary policy more effectively,” the central bank said.

Governor Mark Carney will continue to hold press conferences after the MPR reports are released, the bank said today.

“That’s all to the good, it allows financial markets to have a better grasp of the central bank’s view of the economy,” said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada in Toronto. “In the past they could talk about growth coming in faster than expected and give you a number but it wasn’t clear where in the year the upward revision was.”

Fixed Dates

The central bank moved to fixed rate-announcement dates in 2000, and said today it “retains the option of making unscheduled rate announcements at any time in the event of extraordinary circumstances.”

The remaining rate decisions for this year are Sept. 5, Oct. 23 and Dec. 4. The next MPR will be released Oct. 24 at 10:30 a.m.

Next year’s announcements are Jan. 23, March 6, April 17, May 29, July 17, Sept. 4, Oct. 23 and Dec. 4. The quarterly economic forecasts will be published with the decisions in January, April, July, and October.

The benchmark interest rate has been at 1 percent since September 2010, the longest pause since the 1950s.