Canadian Economic Data Points Affecting Mortgages
Below are the Bank of Canada’s updated comments on the state of the economy, the Bank and singled out the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia as a “major new source of uncertainty” that will add to inflation “around the world,” and have negative impacts on confidence that could weigh on global growth.
These are the other highlights.
Canadian economy and the housing market
- Economic growth in Canada was very strong in the fourth quarter of 2021 at 6.7%, which is stronger than the Bank’s previous projection and confirms its view that economic slack has been absorbed
- Both exports and imports have picked up, consistent with solid global demand
- In January 2022, the recovery in Canada’s labour market suffered a setback due to the Omicron variant, with temporary layoffs in service sectors and elevated employee absenteeism, however, the rebound from Omicron now appears to be “well in train”
- Household spending is proving resilient and should strengthen further with the lifting of public health restrictions
- Housing market activity is “more elevated,” adding further pressure to house prices
- First-quarter 2022 growth is “now looking more solid” than previously projected
Canadian inflation and the impact of the invasion of Ukraine
- CPI inflation is currently at 5.1%, as the BoC expected in January, and remains well above the Bank’s target range
- Price increases have become “more pervasive,” and measures of core inflation have all risen
- Poor harvests and higher transportation costs have pushed up food prices
- The invasion of Ukraine is putting further upward pressure on prices for both energy and food-related commodities
- Inflation is now expected to be higher in the near term than projected in January
- Persistently elevated inflation is increasing the risk that longer-run inflation expectations could drift upwards
- The Bank will use its monetary policy tools to return inflation to the 2% target and “keep inflation expectations well-anchored”
- Global economic data has come in broadly in line with projections in the Bank’s January Monetary Policy Report
- Economies are emerging from the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 more quickly than expected, although the virus continues to circulate and the possibility of new variants remains a concern
- Demand is robust, particularly in the United States
- Global supply bottlenecks remain challenging, “although there are indications that some constraints have eased”
As the economy continues to expand and inflation pressures remain elevated, the Bank’s Governing Council made a clear point of telling Canadians to expect interest rates to rise further.
More on Food Security – Interesting data points on the War in Ukraine
Prices for food commodities like grains and vegetable oils reached their highest levels ever last month largely because of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the “massive supply disruptions” it is causing, threatening millions of people in Africa, the Middle East elsewhere with hunger and malnourishment, the United Nations said Friday.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said its Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in international prices for a basket of commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month, up 12.6% from February. As it is, the February index was the highest level since its inception in 1990.
FAO said the war in Ukraine was largely responsible for the 17.1% rise in the price of grains, including wheat and others like oats, barley and corn. Together, Russia and Ukraine account for around 30% and 20% of global wheat and corn exports, respectively.
While predictable given February’s steep rise, “this is really remarkable,” said Josef Schmidhuber, deputy director of FAO’s markets and trade division. “Clearly, these very high prices for food require urgent action.”
The biggest price increases were for vegetable oils: that price index rose 23.2%, driven by higher quotations for sunflower seed oil that is used for cooking. Ukraine is the world’s leading exporter of sunflower oil, and Russia is No. 2.