Higher interest rates could be coming sooner, says Bank of Canada governor

General Angela Calla 25 Mar

By Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Canadians could be facing higher interest rates sooner than previously thought as a result of stubborn inflation and stronger economic growth, Bank of Canada Mark Carney said Wednesday.

Carney did not declare higher rates were on the way, but issued his clearest signal to date that his year-old commitment to keep the policy rate at the record 0.25 per cent until July was “expressly conditional” on inflation remaining tame.

In a speech to a business audience, the bank governor noted that both underlying core inflation and economic growth have grown slightly stronger, although broadly proceeding as expected.

The tip-off to economists was that he changed his language on his conditional commitment on interest rates, which has led to historically low rates for both consumers and businesses in Canada and helped the country recover from recession.

“This commitment is expressly conditional on the outlook for inflation,” he told the Ottawa Economic Association.

It was the first time Carney has undercut the commitment in such pointed language.

Later, Carney downplayed the significance, joking with reporters that he needed to used different words to keep the media’s attention.

But economists said the distinction was significant.

“They still have considerable latitude, but the changes that would be required to their forecast are consistent with hiking rates sooner than markets are anticipating,” said Derek Holt, Scotiabank’s vice-president of economics. He said Carney may move as early as June 1.

But Holt stressed that Carney’s overall message to Canadians is that rates will remain low by historical standards for some time.

“No matter what, we emerge from this with lower rates at the end point of the hiking campaign than in past cycles. He’s saying the outlook is clouded with risks and there’s a number of reasons to expect growth to be lower than past cycles.”

Core inflation – which excludes volatile items like energy – has been stubbornly sticky the past few months, with the index rising to 2.1 per cent in February. That’s the first time it has been above the central bank’s target of two per cent in more than a year.

And Carney pointed out that the economy has performed better than he thought when the bank issued its last forecast in January, predicting growth of 2.9 per cent this year. Since then, several private sector economists have increased their projections and Carney is expected to do the same at the next scheduled forecast date on April 22.

At a news conference following his speech, Carney warned against reading in too much optimism in his assessment.

“It wasn’t that rosy a message,” he said.

He cautioned that low U.S. demand and the high Canadian dollar, which was trading below 98 cents US on Wednesday but still high by recent standards, were acting as “significant drags” on the economy.

On a longer term basis, Carney’s message to Canadians was positively dark, warning that the country needs to address its “abysmal” productivity record and that the world needs to follow through with reforms to address global imbalances, particularly China’s undervalued currency.

Carney calculated that unless the country improves its productivity or output per unit of work, Canadians can expect to lose a total of $30,000 in real income over the next decade.

“Canada does underperform,” he said. “We are not as productive as we could be. Our potential growth is slowing. Moreover, this is occurring as the very nature of the global economy … is under threat.”

Canada’s productivity has advanced a meagre 0.7 per cent annually over the last decade, he noted, less than half the rate in the U.S. and half the rate Canada managed between 1980 and 2000.

He placed the blame on the doorstep of Canadian business, which he said needs to make much bigger investments in equipment and machinery and in information technologies.

Canadian workers have about half the information and communication technology at their disposal as their American counterparts, he said, adding that changes must be make quickly because the landscape of the global economy has shifted and it requires a “big response.”

Carney also said a key to future prospects for the Canadian and global economies is adoption of the G20 framework for economic sustainability. That will require addressing global imbalances which, in part, are caused by fixed currencies like China’s yuan which are kept artificially low to boost exports and discourage imports.

He produced a chart showing that unless the G20 measures are adopted, global growth will be about one percentage point lower in the next five years than it might otherwise be. The worse case scenario is a prolonged global recession that triggers protectionism, deepening the crisis. The irony, he said, is that China loses out in the long run as well.

Carney is the second Canadian policy-maker in as many days to warn about the devalued yuan. On Tuesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Canada will push the issue at the upcoming G20 meetings in Toronto in June. A revaluation of the yuan would likely lead to adjustments in other fixed currencies in Asia, economists said.

The U.S. has taken the lead in pressuring China on the yuan, but so far the emerging economic superpower has dismissed such calls and said it would move on its own schedule.

“An adjustment in global exchange rates is part and parcel of global rebalancing,” said Carney. “What’s at stake here is enormous and the adjustment of those real, effective exchange rates of all major currencies is an important component of rebalancing.” http://ca.news.finance.yahoo.com/s/24032010/2/biz-finance-higher-interest-rates-coming-sooner-says-bank-canada.html

Fron Page Globe and Mail…The Days of record low rates are numbered

General Angela Calla 22 Mar

Jeremy Torobin

Ottawa From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

The clock is ticking on Canada’s record-low borrowing costs, as inflation continues to move at a faster rate than the central bank had expected.

The hot reading on inflation issued by Statistics Canada Friday is raising expectations that the Bank of Canada could lift interest rates as early as June.

Economists, meanwhile, rushed to boost their growth forecasts as the country’s economic rebound gathers steam.

The inflation figures, along with a report that showed retailers are benefiting from higher prices, pushed the Canadian dollar well past 99 U.S. cents Friday morning, before it fell back to close at 98.39 U.S. cents.

Consumer prices climbed 1.6 per cent in February, a slower pace than the 1.9 per cent in the previous month, according to Statscan. But the core rate – which strips out volatile items such as fuel – rose to 2.1 per cent from 2 per cent.

The Bank of Canada is guided by the core rate. Policy makers hadn’t expected the core rate to reach the central bank’s 2-per-cent target until the third quarter of 2011.

That, coupled with an improving economy, means Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney is likely to boost rock-bottom interest rates sooner rather than later, some economists say.

“We’re progressively leaving the recovery phase,” said Yanick Desnoyers, assistant chief economist at National Bank Financial in Montreal. Policy makers “are going to change their tone on the economy in April, and they’re going to move in June. The longer they wait, the more aggressive they’ll have to be.”

Mounting speculation that the central bank will begin boosting interest rates before the U.S. Federal Reserve moves has helped push the loonie close to parity with the U.S. currency.

Canada is on course to become the first in the Group of Seven – which also includes the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Italy – to raise borrowing costs since the global crisis. The U.S., in contrast, shows no signs of hiking rates any time soon. U.S. consumer prices last month failed to increase for the first time in almost a year, and producer prices dropped.

In Asia, however, inflation is roaring back as growth accelerates. India’s central bank surprised markets yesterday with a rate hike, calling a fight against inflation “imperative.” China, which the World Bank suggested this week should do more to keep a lid on a potential bubble in its property market, posted a 16-month high in its consumer price index last month.

Still, many economists said Canada’s core inflation numbers were skewed because of hotels in Vancouver that charged exorbitant rates during the Winter Olympics. In one case, a hotel that normally marketed itself as a discount option was charging $1,200 a night for a suite that sleeps six people, a steep markup from the usual maximum of about $280.

But Mr. Desnoyers noted that, assuming the “Olympic effect” temporarily added 0.2 percentage point to core inflation, a reversal of that boost would still leave the rate above the Bank of Canada’s 1.6 per cent projection for the first quarter.

“It’s going to be very hard to meet the Bank of Canada’s projected inflation path with the kind of numbers we’ve seen recently,” he said.

Retail sales, meanwhile, rose 0.7 per cent in January, Statscan said, largely because of a rush for home-improvement products before the federal government’s Home Renovation Tax Credit expired. In volume terms, overall sales were up just 0.1 per cent, which means the gains were driven by higher prices.

Mr. Carney pledged last April to keep the benchmark rate at 0.25 per cent through the middle of this year, or longer depending on the inflation outlook. He will update his inflation and growth forecasts during the week of April 20.

Increasingly, economists say if he doesn’t start tightening in June, then he’ll likely hike rates the following month.

Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said Mr. Carney may be getting an “itchy trigger finger” but will likely wait until July, having said in a March 11 speech that borrowing costs staying where they are until the end of June would be “appropriate.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Shenfeld said CIBC is now raising its first-quarter growth forecast to “roughly 5 per cent” from 4.1 per cent. Bank of Montreal deputy chief economist Douglas Porter said Friday that his firm has lifted its forecast to 4.7 per cent from 3.7 per cent, “and that may not be the final word.” If they’re right, it would be the second straight three-month period with growth at or close to 5 per cent. That compares with the central bank’s estimate of 3.3 per cent for the final three months of 2009, and its prediction of 3.5 per cent for January through March.

There is an outside chance Mr. Carney could use a speech in Ottawa on March 24 to lay the groundwork for a rate hike on April 20, but virtually all analysts say the earliest he could possibly tighten would be at a June 1 decision, and most maintain that he’ll wait until his next opportunity on July 20.

Most economists say Canada’s central bank will lift rates in increments of no more than 0.25 of a percentage point and may stop after a few moves to re-evaluate. That’s how the Reserve Bank of Australia has proceeded since last fall, when it became the first major central bank to tighten as the dust started to settle on the crisis.

Scotia Capital’s Derek Holt, who has said for weeks that Mr. Carney could start raising rates as early as next month, predicts “non-emergency, but low” rates for years.

With a report from Bloomberg News

When it comes to mortgage details, most people just ‘zone out’

General Angela Calla 18 Mar

James Pasternak, Financial Post 

It is a legal document that stretches about 30 pages and runs about 10,000 words. Its execution takes no more than a couple minutes and when the ink dries on the signature lines, more times than not it is never read and gets slipped into a file folder, largely forgotten.

But despite its casual handling, the residential mortgage agreement governs the largest debt of over 5 million Canadians and within its fine print are the provisions that can make or break a household’s financial future. There’s a lot at stake. At the beginning of 2004, Canadians held $517.7-billion in mortgages.

“I think most of the major bank representatives do a good job of explaining these provisions to their clients but I think most people zone out and don’t really listen. All they think about is getting a mortgage at 3.8% and ‘I want to get this done’,” says Len Rodness, Partner, of Toronto-based law firm Torkin Manes (www.torkinmanes.com)

But beyond the interest rate there are a wide range of options and clauses in the mortgage agreement that deserve scrutiny. In a competitive lending environment, shopping for the right mortgage can bring significant savings and peace of mind through the amortization period.

Take the case of Hamilton, Ont., couple Kathy Funke and Dan Perryman. When they were shopping for a home in 2003, the interest rate was the top priority. They also wanted flexible prepayment options and accelerated weekly mortgage payments. To leverage the competitive interest rate they received, they went with a variable rate mortgage. They paid off a $230,000 mortgage in 5 ½ years.

“The power in these things comes from people who know how to manage [the] various privileges. It has a huge [savings] effect on amortization….The ideal thing is to understand what your privileges are and then combine them to your advantage — to what you can afford to do; to fit your lifestyle and ability to pay,” says Jeff Atlin of Thornhill, Ont. based Abacus Mortgages Inc.

And privileges there are. You just have to shop for them.

Accelerated Payment Options: Getting the loan paid earlier

It just seemed like yesteryear when everyone was paying their mortgage on the 1st of every month. Now, in addition to the first of the month option, some of the more common options are accelerated weekly and biweekly or semi-monthly options.

These frequency options result in long term savings. For example if one selects the accelerated biweekly option one is making 26 payments in a year, the equivalent of two prepayments per year over the monthly option. When a $150,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years is paid under an accelerated bi-weekly option, the debt is retired in 21 years and the interest savings are around $18,000.

Toronto resident and electrician Karl Klos, 26, selected “weekly rapid” payments on a mortgage amortized over 35 years. The mortgage payments are made each week but he added the “rapid” option by increasing the amount paid. Mr. Klos says that the payment frequency will pay off his mortgage in 25 years instead of 35 years.

“I can’t understand why anybody would do monthly payments anymore now that the banks offer the ability to have weekly payments. It may be a cash flow situation. If you do a weekly mortgage payment it could save you a significant amount of money,” says real estate lawyer Len Rodness.

Restating mortgage agreement vows

It doesn’t take long after one signs a mortgage agreement to hear from a neighbour or friend that they received a better rate. So when you dig out the mortgage agreement see if there’s a clause that allows borrowers to renegotiate their agreement before the end of the term. The bank might use a model called “blend and extend.” For example, if one has a $100,000 mortgage at 6% mortgage with two years to go they might blend it with the current five year rate of 3.79%. So according to mortgage broker Atlin when they average out 2/5 of the mortgage at 6% and 3/5 are at 3.79%, the customer will get a new reduced rate of about 4.6%. But the borrower is tied to the bank for another 5 years.

Putting spare cash against the mortgage with no penalty

Almost all mortgage agreements have options for mortgage prepayment without penalty. Klos’s mortgage agreement allows prepayments of up to 15% of the annual balance. Most financial institutions provide prepayment options in the 10-20% range. Some lenders allow borrowers to make the prepayment any time during the year while other agreements restrict the prepayment to the anniversary date.

Also, some financial institutions allow customers to make multiple smaller prepayments during the year as long as they don’t exceed the annual limit. Funke and Perryman were able to retire their $230,000 mortgage in 5 ½ years primarily because of the prepayment provisions in their mortgage.

Coming up with more money for each payment

Some lenders will allow borrowers to increase the payments without penalty. Depending on the wording of the mortgage agreement the increased payments can range from around 15% to 100% of the current payment. So if one is paying $1,000 per month under the 15% rule, a borrower can raise it to $1,150 per month. Klos’s weekly rapid payment plan was based on him raising the weekly payments by 5%.

“Payment and amortization are a function of each other. Any time you raise the payments you shorten the amortization; any time you shorten the amortization you raise the payment,” says Mr. Atlin.

The mortgage prenuptial: Penalties for getting out of your mortgage

“A mortgage is a contract first and foremost. It is a contract between a borrower and the lender,” Atlin says. And if someone hasn’t felt that cold business approach during the course of their mortgage, they certainly will if they try to leave early. Most borrowers pay out their mortgages when they sell their house, win a lottery or are offered a better interest rate by another company. Until recent years, the standard penalty for breaking a mortgage agreement was three months of interest. Paying out a $200,000 mortgage could amount to a $2,500 penalty.

In many current mortgage agreements, the penalty for an early exit (and not extending) is either three months of interest or an interest differential, whichever is greatest.

The mortgage differential penalty can be quite expensive. If a mortgage is at 5% interest rate and you have three years left in your term, the bank will use the difference between the agreement rate and the current market rate to calculate the penalty. Using the 5% case above, let’s say the current 3-year mortgage is available at 3.5%. The bank will charge the difference between 5% and 3.5% for the balance of your term.

Bank customers who have an open mortgage with a variable rate can usually pay them out with little or no penalty. Some mortgages are closed for the first few years and then revert to an open option. The penalties, if there are any, would be much lower once the mortgage converts to an open one. If one can, it would be best to wait until the mortgage kicks into open status.

When paying out the mortgage try to have some of it calculated as your annual no-penalty prepayment option. Therefore, if you are paying out a $200,000 mortgage and you also have a 20% per annum prepayment option you might be able to save penalties on $40,000. If the mortgage prepayments can only be done on the anniversary date, make sure that is the day you select to pay out the mortgage.

Mortgage Lifelines

Mortgages are often signed and sealed with the borrower having every intention to pay. However, the world is paved with best intentions and recessions are everyone else’s problem until the boss comes into your office with the bad news.

“That is something that nobody turns their attention to at the time. The original document is done. The legal issues are in that original document. For a practical point of view given the state of the economy these [clauses] might be something beneficial,” said Len Rodness of Torkin Manes.

Some mortgages include a Rainy Day option. This option allows the borrower to skip one principal and interest payment each mortgage year. The interest portion of the skipped payment or payments will be added to the outstanding principal balance.
Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgage-centre/story.html?id=2631845#ixzz0iTZkol9e


Flaherty not flinching as loonie nears parity

General Angela Calla 17 Mar

Nicolas Van Praet, Financial Post Montreal — The era of fearing Canada’s high-flying loonie might finally be passed.

Trading near US98.6¢, the dollar is now the closest it’s been to one-on-one status with the U.S. greenback since July 2008. And Jim Flaherty, Canada’s finance minister isn’t flinching.

“We see where it’s at now and it’s competitive,” Mr. Flaherty said of the currency’s impact on the Canada’s economy in an interview on Bloomberg Television. The economy could be at risk if the loonie rose to an uncompetitive level but that is not expected to happen, the minister said.

There was a time not so long ago when a loonie edging closer to parity with the U.S. dollar would trigger hoots of outrage from business leaders and federal opposition ranks alike, demanding the Canadian government do something to tame the bird or face ballooning welfare rolls and corporate bankruptcies. Just last summer, Mr. Flaherty himself expressed worry about the loonie’s quick rise.

But the country has now lived with a Canadian currency that’s stayed above US90¢ for much of the past year after hitting a high of US$1.10 in 2007. And today, that indignation may be over amid a raft of data suggesting Canada’s economy is surging back to life.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index on Tuesday rose to its highest level has since September 2008. Oil prices firmed up past US$81 a barrel. New government data showed labour productivity improvements blasted past expectations to 1.4% in the fourth quarter — the fastest rate in almost 12 years.

The governing Conservatives are also taking heart in this past Friday’s labour force survey, which showed Canadian employers hired more people than expected. Employment has been on an upward trend since July 2009 as 159,000 jobs have been added over the past eight months. The economy grew at an annual rate of 5% in the fourth quarter.

But another key element is what’s happening with manufacturers, who typically get hit when the Canadian dollar rises because the goods they sell outside the country become more expensive.

Fresh manufacturing figures Tuesday added to the evidence that Canadian companies are adjusting better than in the past to currency swings, as long as those swings aren’t gigantic. January manufacturing sales rose 2.4% to $44.6-billion, a fifth straight month of growth for a sector hit hard by weak demand during the recession.

“For manufacturers, this situation now is really like a bad remake of Groundhog Day. We’ve seen this before,” said Jeff Brownlee, spokesman for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters association. “What we’ve been saying to our members is that the new normal is the dollar at par or beyond. Par is not a ceiling. And if you can compete at par, and if the dollar doesn’t go there, you’re going to be making money.”

Examples abound of Canadian exporters which have reinvented themselves or stepped up their game to stay alive and win in the face of a higher dollar. Kitchener, Ont.-based Christie Digital Systems Canada, Inc. realized the televisions it was making could no longer compete with cheaper-made Korean and Chinese rivals. So it switched its vocation and now makes advanced video projection systems used at concerts around the world.

Others have taken less dramatic steps, protecting themselves with currency option contracts, retooling plants with new machinery, or engineering their operations to ensure U.S. denominated revenue was used to pay U.S. suppliers.

“Exporters to the U.S. have had fair warning and they’re tried to adjust to it. So maybe to some extent they’ve got used to it,” said Dale Orr, an independent economist. “They’ve lost a little bit of steam in terms of getting public sympathy or government sympathy, that’s for sure. It isn’t there like it was.”

Behind the latest numbers and the success stories however lies the stark fact that nothing dramatic has changed in the competitive fundamentals of Canadian companies over the past three years, warned Don Drummond, chief economist at TD Bank Financial group.

To take just one measure, although Canada’s private sector productivity soared in the fourth quarter, it was its first uptick in more than a year and it fell during the recession as the United States’ output per hour worked rose sharply. Productivity still trails that of our trading partner.

“Canadian businesses have not become more competitive this time around than they were the last time the dollar was reaching parity,” Mr. Drummond said. “There’s no tangible evidence looking at the productivity and the cost-effectiveness of the business sector to suggest that they’re in a better position this time around. In fact if anything, they’re worse.”

Read more:


Clarification on Qualifying Interest Rates

General Angela Calla 11 Mar

Clarification on Qualifying Interest Rate   On February 16th, the government announced new parameters regarding the application of the government guarantee supporting the mortgage insurance industry, but did not stipulate the rules around qualifying interest rates. Effective April 19th, 2010, the qualifying interest rate used to assess borrower eligibility will change only for loans with an LTV greater than 80% as follows.   Fixed-Rate & Variable-Rate Mortgages For loans with a fixed-rate term of less than five years and for all variable-rate mortgages, regardless of the term, the qualifying interest rate is the greater of:

  • The benchmark rate
  • The contract interest rate

For loans with a fixed-rate term of five years or more, the qualifying interest rate is:

  • The contract interest rate

Mortgages with Multiple Interest Rates (eg, Multi-Component Mortgages) Each component must be qualified using the applicable criteria defined above.   CMHC defines the benchmark rate as the Chartered Bank – Conventional Mortgage Five-Year rate that is the most recent interest rate published by the Bank of Canada in the series V121764 as of 12:01am (ET) each Monday, which can be found at: www.bankofcanada.ca/en/rates/interest-look.html

Self Employed Mortgage Changes from CMHC

General Angela Calla 11 Mar

CMHC Self-Employed Policy Changes
to Come into Force April 9th
& Clarification on Qualifying Interest Rate
for April 19th Changes

  CMHC Self-Employed Policy Changes   Mortgage loan insurance applications submitted to CMHC on or after April 9th, 2010 will include different criteria for self-employed borrowers without traditional third-party validation of income.   CMHC is reducing the maximum LTV for the Self-Employed Product Without Third-Party Validation of Income as follows:

  • For purchase and portability transactions, the maximum LTV is being reduced from 95% to 90%
  • For refinances, the maximum LTV is being reduced from 90% to 85%

The CMHC Self-Employed Product Without Traditional Third-Party Validation of Income is intended for self-employed borrowers who have difficulty providing documentation for their current income level. Typically, these are borrowers who recently became self-employed.   Accordingly, self-employed borrowers who have been self-employed in the same business for more than three years will not be eligible under this product. CMHC continues to require that the borrower have a minimum of two years of experience in the same field. This can include time spent working as a non-self-employed worker in the same field.   As CMHC has found that commissioned income can be relatively easily substantiated, borrowers who earn income through commission will no longer be eligible for the CMHC Self-Employed Product Without Traditional Third-Party Validation of Income

CMHC announces more behind the changes April 19th 2010

General Angela Calla 8 Mar

The MBABC has confirmed that the following will be the qualifying interest rate on new high ratio mortgage applications as of April 19th.


For loans with a fixed term of less then 5 years and for all variable rate mortgages, regardless of term, the qualifying interest rate is the greater of:

  • the benchmark rate
  • the contract interest rate

For loans with a fixed term of 5 years or more, the qualifying interest rate is:

  • the contract rate

For mortgages with multiple interest rates, each component must be qualified using the applicable criteria defined above.

CMHC defines the benchmark rate as the chartered bank conventional mortgage 5 year rate that is the most recent interest rate published by the Bank of Canada in the series V121764 as of 12:01 am (Eastern Time) each Monday and which can be found at http://bankofcanada .ca/en/rates/interest-look.html.


The MBABC has also confirmed that the following changes will be implemented to CMHC’s Self-Employed Product without Traditional Third Party Validation of Income as of April 9th.


CMHC is reducing the maximum LTV for self employed products without third party validation of income as follows:

  • For purchases and portability transactions , the maximum LTV is being reduced from 95% to 90% and
  • For refinance transactions, the maximum LTV is being reduced from 90% to 85%

A must read if you have a variable rate mortgage

General Angela Calla 2 Mar

March 2 (Bloomberg) — The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low today, and said that inflation and economic output have been higher than policy makers expected, signaling rate increases in coming months.

The target rate for overnight loans between commercial banks remained at 0.25 percent, where it’s been since April, as predicted by all 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The bank also repeated a pledge to leave it unchanged through June unless the “current” inflation outlook shifts.

The economy grew at a 5 percent pace in the fourth quarter, Statistics Canada said yesterday, faster than the bank’s Jan. 21 prediction of 3.3 percent. Inflation has also accelerated close to the central bank’s 2 percent target, suggesting the bank could raise rates before the June commitment ends, said Derek Holt, an economist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

“They are signaling a bias shift here that primes the path for rate hikes, potentially earlier than markets are expecting,” Holt said in a telephone interview. “They could hike now as far as I’m concerned.”

The Canadian dollar gained 0.9 percent to C$1.0316 against the U.S. currency at 9:14 a.m. in Toronto, from C$1.0414 yesterday.

Firmer Inflation

“Core inflation has been slightly firmer than projected, the result of both transitory factors and the higher level of economic activity,” the Ottawa-based bank said in a statement. Fourth quarter growth came from “vigorous domestic spending and further recovery in exports.”

The bank said the expansion, which was the fastest in almost a decade, pushed Canada’s output to a level “slightly higher than the Bank had projected.” Governor Mark Carney has said there must be a transition towards private expenditures instead of government stimulus to create a sustained recovery.

The bank’s statement dropped a reference made in January to inflation risks being “tilted slightly to the downside.” The statement also omitted a reference to the central bank having “flexibility” even with the key interest rate close to zero.

“What’s not in the statement is at least as important as what’s in it,” Holt said. “Removing the reference to inflation risks to the downside, that signals the bank is worried that core inflation is overshooting its expectations.”

Sending a Message

“It doesn’t take huge changes in words to send a message,” said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets in Toronto before the announcement. “They have to slowly but surely set the landscape for rate hikes.”

Canada’s annual inflation rate was 1.9 percent in January, the fastest pace in more than a year, Statistics Canada said Feb. 18. The so-called core inflation rate, which excludes gasoline and seven other volatile items, rose 2 percent, underscoring what Carney has called “stickiness” in that rate.

Carney has also said Canada’s economy will operate with “slack” through the middle of 2011. Growth will be curbed by the Canadian dollar’s strength and a low volume of U.S. orders, the bank reiterated today. Canada’s dollar appreciated 25 percent against the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months to about 96.6 U.S. cents.

“It’s better to move sooner than later but be less aggressive,” said Yanick Desnoyers, assistant chief economist at National Bank Financial in Montreal. He predicts an April rate increase.

Spare Capacity

Statistics Canada also revised its earlier growth figures to show the country’s first recession since 1992 was deeper than thought, with a 7 percent annualized contraction in the first quarter of last year.

The capacity left in the economy means the bank can wait until after its June commitment ends to raise rates by a quarter point, Porter said. “It would take an awful lot to push the bank into an earlier move,” he said.

The bank should raise its key lending rate in half-point moves after June, University of Western Ontario professor Michael Parkin said in a Feb. 23 paper. Taking the rate to 3.75 percent by mid-2011 is needed to keep inflation in check as an economic recovery is “taking hold,” Parkin wrote for the C.D. Howe Institute, a research group chaired by former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge.

The Bank of Canada will probably raise the key rate to 0.75 percent in the third quarter and to 1.25 percent by the end of the year, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. A separate survey for the U.S. shows economists don’t expect the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark rate to 0.75 percent until the fourth quarter.

How much will my payment raise?

General Angela Calla 2 Mar


A 300k mortgage can go up $120 a month with the new suggested rate hikes of 50basis point increases that can happen 4-6 times throughout the 2nd half of 2010 and through 2011.


Call 604-802-3983 or tune into The Mortgage Show with AMP of the year Canadawide Angela Calla on CKNW AM980 7pm to learn everything you need to know about our changing mortgage market.

Pressure grows for Bank of Canada to hike rates

General Angela Calla 2 Mar

Paul Vieira, Financial Post   


OTTAWA — Pressure on the Bank of Canada to move early on raising interest rates mounted Monday after data on fourth-quarter gross domestic product suggested the economy is roaring its way out of recession after recording the fastest pace of growth in nearly a decade.


The central bank could provide hints of a change Tuesday morning when it releases its latest statement on interest rates. Its plan for almost a year has been to conditionally keep its benchmark rate at 0.25% until July in an effort to pump up economic growth after the great recession.


Data from Statistics Canada suggest the emergency-level rates have worked their magic, perhaps faster and better than anticipated.


The economy expanded 5% in the final three months of 2009, blasting past market expectations for a 4% gain – and the bank’s own 3.3% forecast – and setting the stage for robust growth this quarter. It is also the fastest pace of quarterly economic growth since late 2000. Further, the data were solid across the board, with personal consumption and net trade contributing to the performance.


Third-quarter data were also revised upward, with growth of 0.9% as opposed to the original 0.4% reading.


This comes on top of January inflation data that indicated price increases have moved closer to the central bank’s 2% target earlier than envisaged.


“With growth being stronger than expected and inflation sticky … we remain of the view that the Bank of Canada has the full green light to hike as emergency conditions have passed and with it justification for sticking to the zero lower bound on rates,” said economists Derek Holt and Karen Cordes from Scotia Capital.


Yanick Desnoyers, assistant chief economist at National Bank Financial, said a rate hike could come as early as next month, when data might show the output gap – or the amount of slack in the economy – is narrowing faster than the central bank expected.


He added the headline GDP data might be underestimating how quickly economic slack is being absorbed. For instance, gross domestic income – or the sum of all wages, corporate profits and tax revenue – climbed by 8.5% in the quarter, the best showing since 2005. And that follows a 4.5% gain in the third quarter.


Sheryl King, chief economist and strategist at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Canada, said she expects a rate hike in June, based on a belief the central bank will want to see through its conditional pledge for as long as possible.


Among the data points she said she found most encouraging was a 4% gain in real wage growth – defined as gains in household income excluding transfers from governments. The last time there was growth in this category was prior to the recession.


“This signals that risk taking and organic growth is coming back in Canada,” she said.


Of course, not all analysts believe the data will push Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney to veer off course. Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the data surely raises the odds of a July rate rise but anything earlier than that remained remote. Analysts at TD Securities also shared a similar view.


Also, the data contained one key blemish – a 9.2% drop in machinery and equipment investment by Canadian companies, which does not bode well for efforts to boost abysmal productivity levels.


The GDP data attracted investors, as the Canadian dollar gained a full US1¢, to US96.01¢, on the possibility of an early rate hike.


Canadian growth should remain robust as the global recovery takes hold. Business surveys released Monday indicated manufacturers continue to lead the recovery, with factory activity expanding last month across Asia, the United States and Europe.
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