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CHHMA NEWS

CHHMA - EYE ON OUR INDUSTRY
Volume 14, Issue 27, July 16, 2014

Inside This Issue:

• Register Soon for CHHMA Negotiating Seminar (August 20) with Michael Sloopka - Limited Spots Available
• Last Call for CHHMA’s Go Kart Night in Montreal – July 17
• Call for a Quote on Home and Auto Insurance and Be Entered into a Prize Sweepstakes
• Companies Still Sending Unwanted E-mails After Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Introduced
• Target Should Cut its Losses and Exit Canada - Soon, Says Credit Suisse
• Home Depot Starts Selling 3-D Printers in Stores as Part of Pilot Project
• Bank of Canada Leaves Interest Rate Unchanged at 1%, Says Inflation Surge Temporary 
• Home Resales in Canada Rise to Highest Level in 4 Years
• Canadian Home Prices Rise in June, But Pace Slows
• Canada New Home Prices Pushed Higher by Western Gains
• Canada’s Economy Sheds 9,400 Jobs in June, Unemployment Rate Rises to 7.1% 
• Latest U.S. Economic News


Association News



Register Soon for CHHMA Negotiating Seminar (August 20) with Michael Sloopka – Limited Spots Available   

Due to the number of requests from the attendees at our Spring Conference, we are pleased to be bringing back Michael Sloopka, The Negotiating Coach, to Toronto for a 1/2 day seminar on August 20, 2014.

Michael has taught many of your customers how to Negotiate! Learn the right techniques from the expert!

The Secrets of Power Negotiating® – Key Insights for Improving Negotiating Effectiveness half-day seminar is an absolute necessity for anyone, at any level in an organization, who is responsible for developing strategies and tactics that arrive at Win-Win outcomes, improve business results and profitability, and resolve stressful day-to-day problems. 

Senior management, sales management, all levels of sales and account management, marketing and customer service personnel, and operations staff can all benefit from improving their negotiating skills. Whether you are an experienced negotiator looking for a few new ideas and strategies or a novice looking for the fundamentals, this seminar will be beneficial.

What Attendees Will Learn From Attending a Half-Day Seminar:
• Learn a proven and powerful negotiating process and methodology.
• Learn the five things you need to know about negotiating.
• Learn about the five characteristics that make a good negotiator.
• Be able to effectively prepare and plan for all negotiations.
• Understand the three critical stages of every negotiation.
• Learn the three key factors that influence every negotiation.
• Learn how to properly and effectively make concessions.
• Learn valuable techniques on how to deal with difficult objections in negotiations.
• Learn one or two of the key negotiating gambits and corresponding countergambits.
• Learn several powerful negotiating tips, questioning techniques, and phrases that will help participants improve their negotiating effectiveness and help to optimize results.
• Reduce unnecessary compromise and needless price discounting.

Event details:
Date: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Time: Registration & Breakfast: 7:30 a.m.
           Presentation: 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
           Coffee Break: 10:30 a.m.
Cost: $299.00 + $29.95 for course material + $42.76 HST = $371.71 total
Location: Toronto Airport area to be advised

Register soon, only 25 spots available!

To register online, go to: http://events.chhma.ca/onbr1_2014/onbr1_2014main.html or contact Maureen Hizaka at 416-282-0022 ext.23, mhizaka@chhma.ca
 



Last Call for CHHMA’s Go Kart Night in Montreal – July 17

Tomorrow night (Thursday, July 17), CHHMA’s Soirée Karting/Go Kart Night is taking place at the Circuit ICAR Motorsports complex (http://www.circuiticar.com/accueil.html), located 20 minutes north of Montreal in Mirabel, Quebec.

The Go Kart racing will take place on an outside 1 km long track designed by 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, where karts can reach speeds of up to 65 km/h.     

The event will include a cold buffet served in the clubhouse (5:00 p.m.) prior to the racing competition which will start at 6:30 p.m. The competition will be a team format so register a team foursome (work colleagues, customers) and enjoy a fun night out with your industry peers. Individuals not registering as a foursome will be assigned to teams.

For all the details and to register, go to:

French: http://events.chhma.ca/kart2014/kart14main_fr.html  
English: http://events.chhma.ca/kart2014/kart14main_en.html  
 


Call for a Quote on Home and Auto Insurance and Be Entered into a Prize Sweepstakes   
 
The CHHMA is pleased to offer our members (including spouses and dependent children residing at home or away at school) with a home and automobile insurance program. The program is brought to you by Aaxel Insurance Brokers Ltd. and is underwritten by Economical Select, a subsidiary of Economical Insurance, a wholly owned Canadian company.

Being a member of the CHHMA you have access to exclusive group rates for your home and auto insurance needs through the program. In addition to your group rate, you may be eligible for extra discounts that could save you up to 60% off your insurance premiums.

Aaxel Insurance and Economical Select are now offering you the opportunity to be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win some great prizes such as a computer tablet, $2,500 travel certificate, $250 gas card or even a car when you call in to get a quote on your home and/or auto insurance.

Members do not need to get a quote if their renewal date is more than 30 days out, however, those members can register for the sweepstakes by supplying their renewal date and present insurance company.

And further good news, those members who have already bought insurance from Aaxel /Economical Select, can also register for the draws.

Complete details, rules and regulations for the sweepstakes can be found at: http://www.selectsweepstakes.com/en/index.asp  

Members must register themselves after getting a quote or supplying renewal dates of their policies etc. at: http://selectsweetstakes.wildapricot.org/.

So call 1-855-380-3666 to speak to a licensed insurance representative and get a quote on your home and/or auto insurance and see if you can save some money!

If your company would like some promotional materials (email attachments, posters, pamphlets) to help communicate the program and the sweepstakes offer, please contact Michael Jorgenson at 416-282-0022 ext.34, mjorgenson@chhma.ca.



Government & Legislative News 

Companies Still Sending Unwanted E-mails After Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Introduced

(Article by Susan Krashinsky, The Globe and Mail)

In the week and a half after the new anti-spam law went into force in Canada on July 1st, more than 12,000 complaints have come in from Canadians who are continuing to receive e-mails they do not want.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) says that complaints are coming in at a rate of roughly 1,000 to 2,000 per day.

The law is designed to curtail unsolicited advertising messages that can crowd consumers’ inboxes. But marketers and legal experts have complained that the law is set up in a way that makes it expensive for businesses to comply, and that it does not affect the worst spam offenders, who are often offshore and difficult to pin down.

The CRTC says it predicted the response would be large in the early days, as the highly-publicized law finally came into effect after years of consultations.

“As expected, the numbers are high at the beginning,” said Manon Bombardier, the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer. “Canadians are using the system, and Canadians understand the necessity of the legislation.”

Complaints are registered through Industry Canada’s spam reporting centre, which is managed by the CRTC. Two other government agencies will also be involved in enforcing CASL, the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, where applicable. Those agencies also have access to the complaints that come through the fightspam.gc.ca website to the reporting centre.

Once complaints are registered, employees at the centre do triage to identify cases where the law actually appears to have been violated. Once they identify legitimate complaints, those are referred to investigators. Investigations into some complaints have already begun, Ms. Bombardier said.

Complaints are one way the group will identify illegal spam, she added. Another technique will be “honeypots” – a term most often associated with spies using seduction to reveal secrets. In this far less glamorous case, it will involve fake e-mail addresses that will be planted in places where spammers usually look for contact information. If spammers send unsolicited messages to those e-mails, the investigators will use those messages to track down violators.

Source: The Globe and Mail



Industry News
 
Target Should Cut its Losses and Exit Canada — Soon, Says Credit Suisse    

(Article by Jonathan Ratner, The Financial Post)

Target Corp. needs to make a decision about whether it wants to continue operating in Canada soon.

Sears Holdings Corp.’s recent announcement that it is exploring strategic alternatives for Sears Canada Inc. makes the decision more pressing, as the potential supply glut would dilute the value of real estate in Canada, Credit Suisse said in a report Wednesday.

“Once a permanent CEO takes the helm, they will need to rapidly decide whether an attempt to turn around Canada is worth diverting time and capital away from the U.S. business,” analyst Michael Exstein told clients.

“We think it may be more prudent for Target to cut its losses and devote 100% of its resources on the U.S. – which comprises over 97% of the company’s current sales.”

If Target exits Canada in 2015, he estimates it will incur US$3.5-billion in charges but generate US$1-billion in cash proceeds. Target is expected to see a roughly 10% dip in shareholder’s equity as a result, and the largest decline in free cash flow since 2007.

By the end of fiscal 2014, Mr. Exstein noted that Target will likely have spent about US$6-billion in capex and after-tax losses in Canada. But more spending may be coming if the company wants to turn things around, as the analyst thinks it will be a major effort that takes at least several years to accomplish.

“The turnaround would require fixing supply chain and stocking issues, investing in price, and perhaps most critical and difficult of all, repairing the company’s reputation in the eyes of the Canadian consumer,” he said.

Mr. Exstein estimates the liquidation value of the 189 Zeller’s locations Target acquired will be significantly lower than the US$1.86-billion it paid in 2011.

It sold the rights to acquire 54 of them to third parties for US$225-million, but it is not known whether these were of poor or high quality relative to those it kept.

Assuming Target sells the remaining leases at a 20% premium to the 2011 average price of the 54 leases sold, that would generate an estimated US$675-million in cash.

If the company closed up shop in Canada at the end of fiscal 2014, Mr. Exstein estimates that Target’s free cash flow would decline by US$722-million, while net debt to equity would rise from an estimated 56% in 2014 to 61% in 2015.

Source: The Financial Post



Home Depot Starts Selling 3-D Printers in Stores as Part of Pilot Project

Home Depot Inc. started selling 3-D printers Monday in stores for the first time, pushing deeper into a market that was once the domain of engineers and hobbyists.

The retailer is selling devices from MakerBot, a 3-D printer maker acquired by Stratasys Ltd. last year, in 12 locations as part of a pilot project, the companies said. The effort will include stores in California, Illinois and New York.

“It’s a pilot for us to test a potential disruptive technology, and to make sure we are on the forefront of a new innovative product,” Joe Downey, an online merchant at Atlanta- based Home Depot, said.

The move builds on Home Depot’s decision to offer the MakerBot printers on its website three months ago. Though the devices aren’t likely to create a major new source of revenue, the chain is betting that they’ll appeal to forward-thinking contractors and do-it-yourselfers. Customers can use the printers to create parts and supplies that might be handy for repairs, such as cup holders, U-clips and pipe-stakes.

MakerBot’s partnership with Home Depot is a “step into the mainstream,” said Bre Pettis, chief executive officer of Brooklyn, New York-based MakerBot. “Mom, dad, contractors, interior designers — we’re looking forward to blowing their minds and making them MakerBot lovers.”

As the home-improvement field faces increased competition from specialist retailers and e-commerce, new technology will become a more important way for stores to differentiate themselves, said Jocelyn Phillips, an IBISWorld analyst.

The industry is contending with slowing growth in coming years, according to IBISWorld projections. Sales will increase 1.7% annually through 2019, compared with a 2.6% gain in the past five years, the research firm said.

The U.S. population also is aging, which will decrease the number of homeowners in the next 10 years, said Seth Basham, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities in New York.

Home Depot is the home-repair market leader — with US$78.8 billion in revenue last year — followed by Lowe’s Cos., which had US$53.4 billion. Given the size of the total market, the MakerBot partnership will not “move the needle financially for Home Depot,” said Joseph Feldman, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group in New York.

Instead, the move is part of the company’s efforts to stay ahead of the curve, he said.

“If they can capture some of the market share first, then they will,” Feldman said.

The 3-D printing industry is still in its early stages and will need people to become educated on how to use software to design objects, said Tim Shepherd, an analyst at research firm Canalys in the U.K.

“Ten years from now, it will be quite common for people to have 3-D printers in their homes,” he said.

Prices for 3-D printers on Home Depot’s website range from US$1,375 to $2,899.

The consumer market for 3-D printing will reach US$600 million in 2017, up from US$70 million to US$80 million last year, according to Kenneth Wong, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. in San Francisco.

For retailers, the emerging market presents a double-edged sword. If customers create their own supplies and components at home, there’s less need to order something from a store.

Home Depot and MakerBot say they’re not worried about that.

“You can’t use it as a hammer,” Pettis said. Only certain materials can be printed in the MakerBot machine — metal cannot — and customers will still have to go to the store to buy the materials for the printer.

The 3-D printing technology also isn’t as far along as consumers may think, Canalys’s Shepherd said. It takes about an hour to print one chess piece, he said.

“There’s a perception in the public mindset that 3-D printing is like what they see in ‘Star Trek,’” Shepherd said. “If that’s the idea they have, they’ll be disappointed.”

Source: Bloomberg News



Economic News
 
Bank of Canada Leaves Interest Rate Unchanged at 1%, Says Inflation Surge Temporary     

 
Shrugging off a recent surge in inflation as temporary, the Bank of Canada held its key overnight interest rate at 1% on Wednesday, as expected, and insisted it could just as easily cut rates as raise them. 

In the statement that accompanied the rate decision, the bank, however, did omit language it had used in its June rate statement that said the downside risks to its inflation outlook remain important, an acknowledgement that overall inflation hit 2.3% in May and that core inflation was also higher than expected.

It said the risk of a downward drift in inflation expectations has diminished with inflation close to the bank's 2% target.

The overall tenor of the central banks' statement, however, was to emphasize excess capacity in the economy and the need for continued monetary policy stimulation.

"The bank does not expect the recent momentum in monthly inflation to persist," it said in the quarterly Monetary Policy Report (MPR) it released along with the rate decision.

"The bank's judgment is that underlying inflation pressures remain muted, given the persistent slack in the economy and continued intense competition in the retail sector."

Recent higher inflation has resulted from higher energy prices, the fall in the Canadian dollar and sector-specific shocks such as costlier meat, "rather than due to any change in domestic economic fundamentals," the bank said.

Demonstrating its disappointment in economic growth, it pushed back yet again, to mid-2016, its expectations for when the economy would reach full capacity and when core inflation would rise to its 2% target.

And it said that total inflation, which hit 2.3% in May, would dip back below 2% in the second quarter of 2015 and rise to the target again only in the first quarter of 2016.

"The bank is neutral with respect to the timing and direction of the next change to the policy rate...," it said.

The bank said it attaches greater weight to downside risks to inflation when the current level is very low and less weight when it is higher.

Many market analysts had expected bank Governor Stephen Poloz to tone down the stress he has put on the bank's concern about low inflation. They had also expected him to try not to lend any support to the partial recovery of the Canadian dollar recently from the weak levels of earlier this year.

The report had numerous references to the lower Canadian dollar. It said, for example, that the level of the currency had reversed a small portion of the past deterioration in Canada's competitiveness, and it said that, combined with strengthening foreign activity, the lower Canadian dollar should support moderate export growth.

Markets marked down the Canadian dollar in response to the Bank of Canada report.

"The statement reinforced the bank's dovishly neutral stance by playing up the downside growth risks," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

"The bottom line is, unless the Canadian dollar weakens and the U.S. economy strengthens, Canada's economy probably won't meet the Bank of Canada's forecast."

The bank referred to "serial disappointment" with global growth over the past several years, but it continued to project gathering global momentum as headwinds abate.

The Canadian economy is now expected to gain by 2.2% this year, the bank said in its MPR. Policymakers had earlier forecast a 2.3% gain in GDP after just a 2% increase in 2013.

Globally, growth will be limited to 2.9% this year, down from the previous 3.3% estimate, the bank said. The U.S. is estimated to advance 1.6%, considerably lower than the 2.8% forecast in the bank’s report in April, thanks to severe weather conditions in the first quarter of this year.

The eurozone, which only climbed out of recession in 2013, is expected to manage growth of 0.9% this year — but, again, growth is lower than policymakers had anticipated in the spring. Likewise for China, but at a lesser degree, as the 2024 advance was lowered to 7.2% from 7.3%.

“Given the downgrade to the global outlook, economic activity in Canada is now projected to be a little weaker than previously forecast,” policymakers said Wednesday. “However, the bank still expects that the lower Canadian dollar and a projected strengthening in global demand will lead to a pickup in Canadian exports and investment and, eventually, a more sustainable growth track.”

The bank raised its consumer price index inflation projection to 2.1% for the just-ended second quarter and 2% for the third quarter, from an earlier forecast of 1.6% and 1.8% in its April MPR.

It also raised estimates for its so-called “core” inflation measure – which excludes some of the most volatile components of the CPI, and is considered a better gauge of underlying inflation pressures in the broad economy – to 1.6% in the second quarter and 1.7% in the third quarter, from 1.2% and 1.4%, respectively, in the April report.

Source: Reuters, The Financial Post, The Globe and Mail



Home Resales in Canada Rise to Highest Level in 4 Years
 
Canadian existing home sales in June reached their highest monthly level in more than four years as prices continued to rise in some of the country’s hotter markets.

According to statistics released on Tuesday by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 0.8% on a month-over-month basis in June 2014, marking the fifth consecutive monthly increase and the highest level for sales since March 2010.

Sales rose in about half of all local housing markets during the month, led by gains in Greater Vancouver where activity hit its highest level in more than three years, and Montreal where activity is now 10% above post-recession lows reached earlier this year.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales in June were up a whopping 11.2% above levels reported in the same month last year. June sales were up from year-ago levels in three out of every four local markets, led by Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Calgary, Greater Toronto and Hamilton-Burlington.

But the housing market is becoming an increasingly local story with the disparity between hot and cold markets growing across Canada.

"Sales have improved compared to their slower start earlier this year," said CREA President Beth Crosbie. "That said, there are still important differences in how housing markets are faring depending on location, housing type and price point."

In the country’s largest market, Toronto, there are few signs of a slow down. The average sales price clocked in at $568,953 in June, a 7.1% jump from a year ago. Toronto sales were also up 12.3% from a year ago.

Check into Montreal and the average sales price climbed a tiny 0.9% from a year ago to $332,462 with sales activity up 3.4% from a year earlier. In the nation’s capital, Ottawa saw a 1.7% increase from a year ago to reach an average sale price $365,366. Sales in the capital climbed 4.4% from a year ago.

Western Canada continues to be red hot. Calgary June sales climbed 18.9% from a year ago, while the average sale price of a home jumped 5.5% during the same period, reaching $466,994. The country’s most expensive market saw a 29.4% increase in sales from a year ago as the average sale price reached $796,714 last month in Vancouver, a 4.4% increase from a year ago.

The better performing large markets continue to drive the overall housing numbers with sales up 11.2% as mentioned from a year ago on a national basis and the average sale price climbing 6.9% during the same period, reaching $413,215.

The national average price continues to be skewed upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada's largest and most expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $336,164 while the year-over-year increase shrinks to 5.2%.

Gregory Klump, chief economist with CREA, said there has been a burst in new supply, which reflects the slow start to the year caused by the harsh winter which led many sellers to delay listing their homes.

“In markets with tight supply and strong demand, the strength of sales in recent months reflects how many properties were snapped up once they finally hit the market,” said Mr. Klump. “Because the impact of deferred listings and sales has likely run its course, activity over the second half of the year may not be able to maintain the kind of pace we’ve seen over the past couple of months.”

The number of newly listed homes was little changed in June, having eased by 0.1% compared to May. In May, new listings reached their highest level since April 2010. On an actual (not seasonally adjusted) basis, new listings set a record for the month of June.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 53.6% in June, up slightly from 53.2% in May but still well entrenched within the range between 40 and 60% that marks balanced market territory.

The number of months of inventory has firmed since the beginning of 2014. There were 6.0 months of inventory nationally at the end of June 2014. This was unchanged from May but half a month below where it stood at the beginning of the year. As with the sales-to-new listings ratio, the number of months of inventory continues to suggest that housing markets remain generally well-balanced.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up by 5.4% year-over-year in June following slower price gains in April and May. Price growth picked up in all Benchmark categories tracked by the index.

The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends than is possible using averages because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price of 6.9% is.

Two-storey single family homes continued to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+6.19%), followed closely by one-storey single family homes (+5.35%) and townhouse/row units (+5.07%). Price growth for apartment units remained comparatively more modest (+3.85%).

Year-over-year price growth varied among local housing markets tracked by the index, with the biggest gains having been posted by Calgary (+10.74%), Greater Toronto (+7.77%), and Greater Vancouver (+4.37%).

Source: CREA, The Financial Post, Reuters


 
Canadian Home Prices Rise in June, But Pace Slows    

Canadian home prices rose in June but the pace of 12-month home price inflation slowed to its lowest rate in six months, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Monday.

The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed national home prices were up 0.9% last month following a 0.8% increase in May.

Prices were up 4.45% from a year earlier, a deceleration from May’s 4.6% price gain and the lowest gain in six months with large variations across the country.

Canada’s housing market has shown strong growth this spring and early summer after brutal winter weather hurt construction, sales and prices. Most analysts expect the market to carry some momentum through 2014 before slowing in 2015, when interest rates are expected to rise.

“At risk of sounding like a broken record, there are reasons to believe that the housing market will eventually cool down in 2015,” Mazen Issa, senior Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said in a research note.

“Supply in some markets are elevated, so this should constrain the pace of home price appreciation.”

The Teranet data showed that prices rose in seven of 11 markets in June from May, led by a 3.1% gain in Hamilton and a 2.8% rise in Montreal. Gains also included a 0.9% rise in Calgary, a 1.1% gain in Edmonton, a 0.5% increase in Ottawa, a 1.4% rise jump in Toronto and a 1.8% rise in Victoria.

Prices fell in the month in four cities: a 1.2% decline in Halifax, a 0.4% decrease in Quebec City, a 1.0% fall in Vancouver and a 0.6% drop in Winnipeg.

Year-over-year price gains were also seen in seven of the 11 markets surveyed. Prices were up 8.1% in Calgary, 7.3% in Hamilton, 6.1% in Toronto and Vancouver, 3.5% in Edmonton, 1.6% in Victoria and 1.0% in Montreal.

Compared with a year earlier, prices were down 2.5% in Halifax, 1.7% in Ottawa, 2.4% in Quebec City and 0.4% in Winnipeg.

Source: Reuters



Canada New Home Prices Pushed Higher by Western Gains

The New Housing Price Index (NHPI) rose by 0.1% in May from April, pushed higher by strength in the Western Prairie region, Statistics Canada reported last Thursday. 

The increase was less than the 0.2% advance forecast by market operators. On a year-over-year basis, prices grew by 1.5% compared to 1.6% in April.

The census metropolitan area (CMA) of Calgary (+0.8%) was the top contributor, recording the largest monthly price advance among the CMAs covered by the survey. Builders reported higher material and labour costs, market conditions, and an increase in the cost of developed land as the reasons for the gain. Prices for new homes in Calgary have been rising since December 2012.

The combined region of Sudbury and Thunder Bay posted a price advance of 0.5% in May. Builders reported that higher material and labour costs, as well as new building code requirements and new land development fees contributed to the gain. The increase followed eight consecutive months of no price changes, and was the largest since May 2013.

Prices in Edmonton increased 0.3%, as builders reported improved market conditions following a slow start to the year. This was the largest monthly price movement in Edmonton since June 2013.

New home prices in Regina rose by 0.4% in May, as builders reported higher material and labour costs. The increase was the largest in that CMA since October 2013. Other significant month-over-month gains occurred in the CMAs of Hamilton and London (both up 0.3%), where new housing prices rose as a result of market conditions.

Prices were unchanged in 7 of the 21 metropolitan areas surveyed.

New housing prices were down for the third consecutive month in Ottawa–Gatineau and Vancouver (both down 0.2%). Higher land values in Ottawa–Gatineau were outweighed by lower negotiated selling prices and promotional pricing to stimulate sales, while price increases in Vancouver were offset by lower negotiated selling prices.

Prices also declined in St. John's and Charlottetown (both down 0.1%). The decrease in St. John's followed eight months of little or no price change.

On a year-over-year basis, the NHPI rose 1.5% in May, with Calgary (+7.6%) and the combined metropolitan region of Toronto and Oshawa (+2.0%) leading the annual advance.

Other significant year-over-year increases occurred in Saskatoon (+2.7%), St. Catharines–Niagara (+2.6%) and Windsor (+2.2%).

Among the 21 census metropolitan areas surveyed, 5 posted 12-month price declines in May: Vancouver (-1.5%), Ottawa–Gatineau (-1.2%), Victoria (-1.1%), Charlottetown (-1.0%) and Québec (-0.1%).

Source: Statistics Canada, Reuters



Canada’s Economy Sheds 9,400 Jobs in June, Unemployment Rate Rises to 7.1%
 
Canada’s employment engine went into reverse last month, shedding more than 9,000 jobs and pushing the unemployment rate up to 7.1%, the highest level in six months, Statistics Canada said last Friday.

The June numbers were in stark contrast to what markets had expected for the month.

Economists’ forecasts had ranged widely from 20,000 to 35,000, while the consensus was for jobless rate to remain unchanged at 7%.

Still, buried beneath the headlines was some good news: Employers added 33,500 full-time jobs in June, though that was eclipsed by the loss of 43,000 part-time positions. And over the course of the year, all job gains have been in the private sector.

Self-employment was up 23,300 during the month, while both private and public payrolls were down in June, by 21,000 and 11,900, respectively.

The country’s labour market has been limping for some time now, with job-creation over the past year of just 72,000, or 0.4%.

This was the lowest year-over-year growth rate since February 2010, when year-over-year employment growth resumed following the 2008-2009 labour market downturn, the federal statistics agency said.

Canada’s labour market readings have raised eyebrows among economists because of their volatility, which is why observers favour a longer-term trend. And that trend is not encouraging.

“In light of this volatility, it’s best to look at the six-month moving average for a more-reliable picture of the Canadian labour market,” said senior economist Krishen Rangasamy of National Bank.

“On that measure, Canada is creating on average roughly 9,000/month, mostly self-employed and in government, i.e. not a stellar performance by any means,” he added.

Ontario, which lost 34,000 jobs last month, was a sore spot in the report, adding to the pressure on the recently re-elected Liberal government.

“Gains in the West were more than offset by the sharp decline in Ontario, the latter province’s employment now about the same as at the start of the year,” noted Mr. Rangasamy.

The services-producing sector led the declines in June, losing 6,000 positions, while the goods-producing sector — including construction and manufacturing — shed 3,200 jobs.

Following five months of little change, the number of construction workers increased by 32,000 in June, almost the same level as the May reading of 32,200. Employment in this industry is now up to a level similar to that of 12 months earlier.

But it was a different picture for the manufacturing industry, a sector that reflects the health of Canada’s export market and had been showing some recent —although inconsistent — strength in hiring. Instead, the industry shed nearly 11,000 positions in June after losing 12,200 the previous month. Year-over-year, employment is down 0.9% or 16,100 positions in this sector.

The number of people working in retail and wholesale trade was up 3,000 jobs from May and 0.8% from June 2013.

In business, building and other support services, employment declined by 27,000 in June, but was little changed on a year-over-year basis.

There were 15,000 fewer people working in agriculture in June. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in this industry was down 23,000 (-7.1%).

Employment decreased among youths aged 15 to 24 and people aged 25 to 54 in June, while it increased among people aged 55 and over.

Provincially, employment declined in Ontario as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, and increased in Manitoba, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Source: Statistics Canada, The Financial Post, The Globe and Mail


 
Latest U.S. Economic News
 
U.S. Retail Sales Rise Modestly on Surprise Automobiles Decline
U.S. retail sales increased less than expected in June as receipts at automobiles dealerships surprisingly fell, but details of Tuesday’s report suggested the economy was on a solid footing at the end of the second quarter.

The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2% last month after an upwardly revised 0.5% advance in May.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales, which account for a third of consumer spending, rising 0.6% after a previously reported 0.3% gain in May.

So-called core sales, which strip out automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, and correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of GDP, increased a solid 0.6% in June.

Core sales rose by a revised 0.2% in May. They were previously reported as being flat and economists had expected them to rise 0.5% in June.

Despite the below-expectations rise in overall sales, June’s retail sales report was the latest sign of the economy’s strengthening fundamentals, which could buoy optimism the recovery is on a self-sustaining path.

The economy contracted sharply in the first quarter, but that was probably just a temporary setback.

From employment to manufacturing, the U.S. economy appears to be firing on nearly all cylinders with even housing appearing to be regaining its footing after slumping in late 2013 following a run-up in mortgage rates. Growth estimates for the second-quarter top a 3.0% annual rate.

Overall retail sales last month were held back by a 0.3% fall in receipts at auto dealerships. The decline is surprising given that automakers reported a surge in motor vehicle sales in June. Auto sales had increased 0.8% in May.

Excluding autos, sales increased 0.4% after rising by the same margin in May.

Sales at non-store retailers, which include online sales, increased 0.9%. Receipts at gasoline stations gained 0.3%, and sales at clothing retailers advanced 0.8%.

Receipts at sporting goods shops rose 0.6% and sales at electronics and appliances stores gained 0.1%.

But sales at building materials and garden equipment suppliers fell 1.0%.

Source: Reuters

Economists Cut U.S. Growth Forecasts, But Remain Optimistic for Recovery
U.S. business economists have sharply cut their growth forecasts for the April-June quarter and 2014, though they remain optimistic that the economy will rebound from a dismal first quarter.

A survey by the National Association of Business Economics (NABE), released last Friday, found that economists expect, on average, growth of 3% at an annual rate in the second quarter. That’s down from 3.5% in a June survey. Growth in 2014 as a whole will be just 1.6%, they project, sharply below a previous forecast of 2.5%.

The lower 2014 forecast largely reflects the impact of a sharp contraction in the first quarter. The U.S. economy shrank 2.9% at an annual rate, the biggest drop in five years. That decline will weigh heavily on the economy this year, even if growth resumes and stays at 3% or above, as most economists expect.

The economists reduced their second-quarter forecast largely because they expect consumers spent at a much more modest pace. They now expect spending will grow just 2.3% at an annual rate in the second quarter, down from a 2.9% estimate in June. Spending rose just 1% in the first quarter, the smallest increase in four years, a sign consumers are still reluctant to spend freely, The NABE did a special survey after the government announced the dismal figures at the end of June. The group typically surveys economists quarterly.

Despite the downgrades, the survey underscores that economists are mostly optimistic about the rest of this year. Analysts largely blame the first-quarter shrinkage on temporary factors, such as harsh winter weather and a sharp slowdown in inventory restocking. When companies restock their inventories at a weaker pace, it slows demand for factory goods and lowers production.
Jack Kleinhenz, president of the association and chief economist at the National Retail Federation, said that most other recent economic data, particularly regarding hiring, has been positive. Employers have added an average of 230,000 jobs a month this year, one of the best stretches since the recession.

In addition, consumers are more confident and government spending cuts and tax increases are exerting less of a drag. In 2013, a Social Security tax cut expired and government spending cuts were implemented. The combined effects slowed growth by 1.5 percentage points, some economists estimate.

“Many of the fundamentals are there for growth,” Kleinhenz said.

As a result, the 50 economists who responded to the survey see the chances of a recession this year or next as pretty low. Sixty per cent said the odds were 10% or lower, and more than 90% said they were 25% or lower.

Source: The Associated Press

Fed Signals October Stimulus Exit
The Federal Reserve said explicitly for the first time that it intends to end its extraordinary bond-buying program in October, enhanced clarity that represents a first step toward a lengthy and careful unwinding of years of unprecedented stimulus measures.

Most on Wall Street already had satisfied themselves that the Fed’s asset purchases would end at the conclusion of the Oct. 28-29 meeting of the central bank’s policy committee. The Fed steadily has been reducing its monthly purchases of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities by $10-billion (U.S.) at each meeting since December 2013. At that pace, the Fed will spend $15-billion under its quantitative easing policy in October.

Rather than allow any questions to linger, Fed officials decided at their June 18-19 the best thing to do would be end the program there, rather than buy $5-billion of bonds in November. Under quantitative easing, the Fed creates money to purchases the assets, which in turns puts downward pressure on interest rates. The value of the Fed’s portfolio now exceeds $4-trillion, compared with less than $1-trillion before the financial crisis.

“Participants generally agreed that if incoming information continued to support its expectation of improvement in labour market conditions and a return of inflation toward its longer-run objective, it would be appropriate to complete asset purchases in order to avoid having the small, remaining level of purchase receive undue focus among investors,” the Fed said in minutes of the June policy meeting, released last Wednesday after the customary three-week delay.

The minutes confirmed the widely held view that while the U.S. economy is accelerating, it’s not accelerating fast enough to convince most Fed policy makers that stimulus no longer is necessary. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has made clear in recent months that the central bank intends to leave its benchmark lending rate pinned at zero for some time after it stops buying assets.

Equity markets rose after the minutes were released, as investors were reassured anew that the Fed isn’t close to changing tack. The minutes revealed that many on the policy committee remain wary of weakness in the labour market, household consumption and demand for houses. A particular point of concern was wages, which are growing at a less-than-vigorous annual rate of about 2%.

“Whether the Fed raises interest rates earlier or later than anticipated depends on how well the economy performs in the second half of the year,” said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economists at IHS Global Insight, a research firm.

Fed officials expressed unease with investors’ apparent easiness with an economic outlook that central bankers find at least somewhat troubling. Major stock markets are trading at record levels, the bonds of recently troubled countries are surprisingly cheap, and measures of overall volatility are low. Some officials worried these factors “are an indication that market participants were not factoring in sufficient uncertainty about the path of the economy and monetary policy,” the minutes said.

The Fed’s decision to articulate clearly when it plans to end quantitative easing shows policy makers are sensitive to being responsible for any unnecessary surprises. The central bank’s aggressive involvement in financial markets as the result of its bond-buying strategies means that walking away may not be easy.

Fed officials used the minutes to advertise their latest thinking on an appropriate exit strategy. Most on the policy committee are agreed that the interest rate the Fed pays on excess reserves private lends stash at the central bank is the most appropriate tool manage the amount of cash in the economy.

There also appears to be agreement on an aspect of how the Fed manages its portfolio. Currently, when the assets the Fed has purchased since the crisis come due, the central bank re-invests the proceeds. The minutes said most on the policy committee think that policy should continue until after the Fed raises its benchmark rate.

Source: The Globe and Mail

  

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