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  • 2019-06-17 06:42


    By Greg Quinn

    OTTAWA (MNI) - This week will provide one of the best looks at the health of Canadian consumer spending before the July 10 BOC interest-rate decision.

    Friday brings Statistics Canada's report on retail sales for April, the start of the second quarter. Consumer spending including big-ticket items like cars was one of the only bright spots for the economy in the first quarter.

    Consumer price inflation for May is due Wednesday from Statistics Canada. Core prices have held around the BOC's 2% target for a while now, suggesting little pressure to raise or lower rates in the near term.

  • 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.

  • 2019-06-13 06:05


    By Luke Heighton

    BERN (MNI) - The Swiss National Bank (SNB) could lower its already negative interest rates still further should the economic situation demand it, Governor Thomas Jordan said Thursday.

    "We still have room to manoeuvre, we can go to an even more expansionary monetary policy," Jordan said. "We have sufficient room to change our monetary policy in order to react to certain shocks."

    Asked when the SNB might return to positive interest rates, Jordan said: "If you look at the global economy at this moment, the point of time when interest rates will go up is probably postponed and pushed further into the future.

  • 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.

  • 2019-06-11 06:01


    By David Robinson

    LONDON (MNI) - Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Michael Saunders said Brexit was to blame for the disconnect between his message that more tightening was likely to be needed and market rate expectations of no rate hikes through 2020.

    "The disconnect is more to do with Brexit assumptions" than MPC communication, Saunders said in evidence to the Treasury Select Committee.

    --Saunders noted that the MPC's fan-charts, its probabilistic growth and inflation projections, under-estimated the uncertainty of the outlook by excluding the no-deal and remain options.

    "If either were to become the central case, the economic outlook could change materially," Saunders said in his written evidence.

    --Saunders said a no deal Brexit would likel

  • 2019-06-11 04:49


    By Les Commons and Laurie Laird

    LONDON (MNI) - The robust UK jobs market confounded forecasts of a slowdown in the three months to April, with employment and regular earnings both recording healthy gains.

    The following are the key points from the February to April employment reported released on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics.

    - Employment increased by 32,000, well ahead of single-digit gains expected by analysts. The employment rate remained at a record high 76.1%.

    - The LFS unemployment rate remained at 3.8%, matching its lowest level since the last quarter of 1974.

    - Regular earnings growth exceeded expectations, rising by 3.4% after a 3.3% gain in the first quarter.

  • 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.

  • 2019-06-10 04:52


    By Les Commons and Laurie Laird

    LONDON (MNI) - GDP growth fell at its fastest monthly pace since March 2016, dampened by Brexit-related shutdowns of car factories.

    The following are the key points from UK GDP data published Monday by the Office for National Statistics.

    - GDP slumped by 0.4% in April, the biggest fall since March of 2016, a much greater decline than forecast by analysts. However, economic strength in the month of February lifted 3m/3m growth to 0.3% in April, despite a slight decline in GDP in March.

    - Manufacturing weakness accounted for nearly all of the slump in monthly GDP, dragged lower by a 29% plunge in motor vehicle production.