Bank of Canada to keep rates low, uphold outlook
By Louise Egan OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Bank of Canada is widely expected to keep its hands off interest rates on Tuesday, holding them at near zero and committing to do so until at least July, despite growing evidence the economy is kicking back to life.
Canada’s unemployment rate falls to 8.5 per cent as 79,000 jobs created in November
OTTAWA — Canada’s economy swelled by 79,000 jobs last month, much better than many economists had expected, as the number of people with full-time and part-time jobs increased in November while the number of self-employed fell.
Statistics Canada reported Friday that Canada’s unemployment rate fell to 8.5 per cent in November, down one-tenth of a point from October.
The number of people with full-time jobs increased by 39,000 in November, the third straight month of increases, while part-time employment increased by 40,000, following declines in October and September.
“Simply put, this was an inexplicably strong report, and points to a very strong pick-up in Canadian labour market activity in November,” Millan Mulraine of TD Securities wrote in a note to investors.
“However, we consider this pace of job growth to be unsustainable, and believe that it is inconsistent with the current pace of economic recovery in Canada.”
While analysts generally welcomed the national job numbers, they did so with a few caveats.
“This is a generally solid report but with three flies in the ointment that cause concern,” Scotia Capital’s Derek Holt and Karen Cordes said in a note to investors.
They said their first concern is that total hours worked declined by 0.3 per cent. “More bodies are being hired, but at reduced aggregate hours worked. It’s hours worked that drive paycheques, such that the consumer cash flow implications are far less impressive than the job count.”
They were also concerned about many job gains being in the education sector.
“StatsCan has admitted that they have had difficulty with abnormal seasonal adjustments in this component over recent months,” they wrote. “We don’t trust this component and caution on future revisions and or disappointing base effects to the December jobs reading a month from now.”
Holt and Cordes were also concerned about weak productivity.
Self-employment also fell in November by 32,000 jobs. That’s potentially a good sign for the economy, since economists tend to discount self-employment gains in a weak economy as mostly involuntary, the result of enterprising Canadians starting their own businesses when they can’t find regular work.
Statistics Canada says employment is now down 321,000 jobs, or 1.9 per cent, since October 2008.
The agency also noted that hourly wages were 2.3 per cent higher than a year ago, the lowest year-over-year growth since March 2007.
Employment growth were spread across the country, with the biggest gains in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
Most gains were among women between the ages of 25 and 54, and men aged 55 and over.
Statistics Canada notes that between October 2008 and March 2009, employment fell in almost all industries, especially in manufacturing and construction. But since March, the manufacturing sector has slowly stemmed its hemorrhaging of jobs, while employment has picked up in construction and some service industries.
“Almost all the employment growth in November was attributable to the strength of the service sector (plus 73,000), especially educational services,” the agency said in a note.
“With November’s increase, employment in the service sector is back at its October 2008 level, while employment in the goods sector remains well below (minus 324,000) where it was at that time.”
Regionally, Ontario’s unemployment rate remained unchanged from the previous month at 9.3 per cent, even though the province’s economy grew by 27,000 jobs in November.
In Quebec, gains of 21,000 jobs pulled the province’s unemployment rate down four-tenths of a point to 8.1 per cent. The province has lost jobs more slowly than other provinces during the economic downturn.
Alberta’s employment rose by 13,000 last month, the biggest gain in more than a year. British Columbia’s economy also continues to grow.
Manitoba’s economy remained stable, as it has throughout the downturn, and Newfoundland and Labrador also saw employment increase by 2,700 jobs in November.
Benjamin Reitzes of BMO Capital Markets Economics says the November job numbers should boost the Bank of Canada’s confidence in the economy following soft economic growth in the third quarter of the year and weak October figures.
“The solid November report offsets the prior month’s disappointing drop,” he said.
“The average 18,000 gain over the past two months probably best characterizes the state of Canada’s job market, and points to an economy emerging from recession.”
The Canadian Press
Bond Yields Up Big
Bond yields usually rise on good economic news and today was no different. The 5-year bond yield jumped 0.14% today on strong jobs data from both sides of the border. (Canadian Jobs Report / U.S. Jobs Report)
Canada added 79,100 jobs in November. Traders had expected only 15,000.
With rebounding yields, fixed mortgage rates will probably halt their drop, at least for the time being. As of now, discounted 5-year fixed rates are just under 4%—well below the approximate 10-year average of 5.36%.
The 5-year yield, which influences fixed mortgage rates, now stands at 2.53%. It seems to be putting in a floor in the 2.35% to 2.40% range. It may be tough to penetrate that floor in the near-term without weaker economic news, or some other economic shock.
The Bank of Canada holds its last interest rate meeting of the year on Tuesday. 19 of 19 economists polled by Bloomberg predict no change to the Bank’s 0.25% overnight rate.
Nevertheless, analysts will be watching to see if the BoC surprises the bond market with any optimistic outlooks.