North America

  • 2019-06-13 08:42

    By Greg Quinn

    OTTAWA (MNI) - Canadian household debt held close to a record high when compared with disposable income in the first quarter, government figures showed.

    Credit-market debt such as mortgages was 177.6% of after-tax income, unchanged from the fourth quarter of last year. The ratio was a record 178.3% in the third quarter of 2018, according to Statistics Canada figures published Thursday.

    The Bank of Canada has warned that a record buildup of consumer debts through a housing boom in Toronto and Vancouver remains a vulnerability even after governments introduced rules to curb riskier borrowing.

  • 2019-06-13 08:30

    By Greg Quinn

    OTTAWA (MNI) - Canadian new home prices were unchanged for a third month in April, as declines in Toronto were matched with gains in other parts of the province of Ontario.

    Toronto prices fell 0.1% on the month in Statistics Canada's new home price index published Thursday. In Vancouver, the other city that has drawn concern about a potential housing correction, prices declined 0.2%.

    Prices were flat or declined in 19 of 27 cities in the report. Gains in Ontario cities such as Ottawa and London helped keep the overall index steady.

    The index rose 0.1% in April from a year ago.

  • 2019-06-12 07:00

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - The Mortgage Bankers Association Wednesday reported a sharp increase in mortgage activity in the June 7 week, with activity up 26.8% on a further large decline in mortgage rates.

    Here are some of the key features of the report:

    - The Refinance Index rose by 47%, while the Purchase Index rose by 10% in the current week. MBA said it made adjustment to the previous week to account for the Memorial Day holiday.

    - The 30-year average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell further to 4.12% in the current week from 4.23% in the previous week, hitting its lowest point since September 2017.

    - MBA said that the further decline in mortgage rates was due to trade war concerns, bearish comments from FOMC members, and the softer employment data in May.

  • 2019-06-10 11:19

    By Jean Yung

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - Softer U.S. macro data do not present a clear case for an imminent interest rate cut, but persistent trade tensions may prove disruptive enough to warrant a course correction, senior Federal Reserve economists told MNI last week.

    Officials at the Richmond and Dallas Fed banks said in interviews that, in aggregate, the past few months' employment, consumer spending and other indicators look strong, even as they noted softness in recent manufacturing, investment and other data.

  • 2019-06-10 08:30

    By Greg Quinn

    OTTAWA (MNI) - Canadian building permits surged to a record high in April as Vancouver developers accelerated work ahead of a fee increase.

    The value of permits jumped by C$1.2 billion to C$9.3 billion in April, the biggest increase by dollar value since May 2007. The percentage increase of 14.7% was the biggest since October 2016.

    Residential building permits climbed by 24.5% in April, led by a 138% gain in British Columbia. Vancouver led the increase in British Columbia with a gain of C$880 million for multi-family projects in the city.

  • 2019-06-07 10:00

    --March Wholesale Sales Fall 0.4%; Inv/Sales Ratio Rises To 1.34
    --Business Inventories Tracking +0.5%, Sales -0.4%

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - April wholesale inventories rose by 0.8%, just above the 0.7% gain expected by the both the Bloomberg and MNI surveys, while wholesale sales were down 0.4% in the month, data released by the U.S. Commerce Department Friday showed.

    Wholesale inventories had initially been reported as up 0.7% in the advance indictors report published last week and incorporated into the previous estimate of first quarter GDP.

    Factory inventories were already reported up 0.3% and the advance estimate of retail inventories was a 0.5% gain.

  • 2019-06-07 08:46

    By Greg Quinn

    OTTAWA (MNI) - Canada turned in a second straight blockbuster jobs report in May as the unemployment rate fell to a record low 5.4% and payrolls climbed again after a massive gain in April, data released Friday showed.

    The unemployment rate fell from 5.7% in April, the biggest monthly decline since April 2017, while employment climbed by 27,700 in May, following April's record increase of 106,500.

  • 2019-06-06 13:00

    By Jean Yung

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - With little room to cut interest rates should another crisis hit the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve should reevaluate its strategies for hitting its 2% inflation target, New York Fed President John Williams said.

    "What can we do to prepare ourselves and our economies for the next crisis?" he said in remarks prepared for the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "Starting with monetary policy, central banks should reassess their strategies, goals, and the tools they use to achieve them. This might include things like reassessing how we achieve our 2% goal."

    Inflation that's too low is "now a more pressing problem" following the financial crisis, he said, on the heels of a two-day Fed conference to reassess its policy framework.

  • 2019-06-06 11:48

    By Greg Quinn

    OTTAWA (MNI) - Canada's shrinking April trade deficit adds to evidence of faster economic growth in the second quarter, a boost that may not last amid signs the U.S. is escalating tensions with Mexico and China.

    Statistics Canada said the April deficit of C$966 million was the smallest in six months, and it also pared the March estimate to C$2.3 billion from C$3.2 billion. The economist consensus for April was for a C$2.8 billion shortfall.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the data released Thursday:

    - The export rise of 1.3% was slower than March's 4.4% increase, and was led by a surprise jump in gold sales to overseas banks that will be hard to sustain in future reports.

  • 2019-06-05 07:00

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - The Mortgage Bankers Association Wednesday reported a further increase in mortgage activity in the May 31 week, with activity up 1.5% on a large decline in mortgage rates.

    Here are some of the key features of the report:

    - The Refinance Index rose by 6%, while the Purchase Index fell by 2% in the current week.

    - The 30-year average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell further to 4.23% in the current week from 4.33% in the previous week, hitting its lowest point since January 2018.

    - The unadjusted purchasing index was up 0.5% from a year earlier.

    --MNI Washington Bureau; tel: +1 202-371-2121; email:

    [TOPICS: MAUDS$,M$U$$$,MK$$$$,M$$MO$]