Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Canadian manufacturing sales rise a stronger than expected 2%
December 16, 2009

Manufacturing sales rose a robust 2% in October that built further on a 1% gain in September (downwardly revised from an initially estimated increase of 1.4%). The reported rise in October was double market expectations of a 1% increase. On a volumes basis, the increase was still indicative of solid activity, although the rise was a more moderate 1.2% and followed a 1.1% gain in September.
The aerospace component, soaring an impressive 54.1%, led the strength in October’s manufacturing sales. This increase helped to offset declines of 31.4% and 29.4% in September and August, respectively. Also providing support in October was a 7.2% jump in the petroleum and coal component, although a lion’s share of the gain likely reflected gains in prices rather than volumes. Motor vehicle sales were slightly stronger than expected, rising 2.9%, although this was down from the 7.4% gain in September. (Preliminary production numbers suggest that this component likely fell about 5% in November.) The main offset was a 4.4% drop in fabricated metal sales following a 4.9% rise in September.
In terms of other components in the report, inventories were essentially flat, but they managed to eke out a 0.1% gain. This represented the first increase in this measure since January. Unfilled orders fell 3.4%, led by a 6.1% decline in the aerospace component. StatsCan indicated that practically all the strength was concentrated in Quebec where sales jumped 7.3% in the month. Excluding Quebec, manufacturing sales were up only 0.2%.
A second consecutive strong rise in the volume of manufacturing sales provides further support to the growing optimism that the Canadian economy is pulling out of recession. Manufacturing has been a major drag on economic growth throughout most of the downturn, largely reflecting massive cutbacks in auto production. The increase reported in today’s release bodes well for growth October GDP to rise 0.3% in the month following the 0.4% gain in September. This puts the economy on track to meet our current fourth-quarter GDP forecasted increase of 3.4% at an annual rate.
This represents a marked improvement from the disappointing 0.4% rise recorded in the third quarter; however, to assure that this stronger growth is sustained, we expect that the Bank of Canada will keep monetary conditions accommodative near-term, maintaining its conditional commitment of holding the overnight rate unchanged at 0.25% through the end of the second quarter of 2010. A tightening in policy is not expected until the second half of 2010, although the pace is expected to be gradual, with the overnight rate rising only 100 basis points and finishing 2010 at 1.25%.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Home sales jingling along
November's resales roar back; more balance seen for 2010

Tom Lebour
National Post
Saturday, December 12, 2009

The first week of December was a good week, economically speaking, for the Greater Toronto Area and Canada more broadly. We had two waves of positive financial news. First, Statistics Canada announced the Canadian economy grew in the third quarter --the first quarter of growth since the third quarter of 2008.

This was followed by encouraging employment numbers. In Canada, a whopping 79,000 jobs were created in November and the unemployment rate dropped slightly. In the Toronto area, we experienced the fourth straight month of job creation. This was the backdrop for another strong report from the Toronto Real Estate Board. November's existing home sales in the Toronto area were up strongly on an annual basis to 7,446 (up 105% from a depressed November 2008, but within 2% of the total in November 2007), and the average home price climbed 14% to $418,460.

Jason Mercer, TREB's senior manager of market analysis, points to the strong link between the housing market and renewed growth in the economy: "Economic recovery to date has been consumer driven, with housing playing a key role. The fact that the GTA housing market has remained affordable over the past decade, coupled with record low mortgage rates, meant that as consumer confidence recovered, home ownership demand rebounded very quickly. These transactions resulted in spending that benefited other sectors of the economy, including such financial and professional services as mortgage brokers and lawyers, renovation and repair contractors, moving and storage companies and home furnishings retailers to name a few."

By all accounts, when the final resale numbers are released for December, total sales will likely align with the healthy results we had in 2004 through 2006. This will represent quite a recovery from the lows in sales and price we hit at the beginning of the year.

With that said, however, it is important to point out we will not see sustained double-digit rates of growth in sales and average price moving forward.

"Right now," Mr. Mercer says, "we are comparing sales and prices in the recovery phase of the housing market cycle to last winter's decline phase, when the demand for ownership housing dropped sharply over a very short period of time. After the first quarter of 2010, reported rates of growth will not be as large because we will be making comparisons to the stronger sales and price numbers from this past spring and summer."

I think, if asked, most realtors would say they expect more homeowners to list their homes for sale next year as they react to the strong sales and price growth in the second half of 2009. Mr. Mercer says that "with more homes to choose from, market conditions will be more balanced in 2010 and average annual price growth will be more in line with the long-term average. To put this in perspective, the average annual rate of price growth has been approximately 6% since the turn of the new millennium."

I am happy that as we move through the holiday season, we are starting to hear more good news than bad on the economic front and that growth in the housing market is expected to continue at a sustainable pace next year. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to communicating with you in the New Year.

-Tom Lebour is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 28,000 realtors in the GTA.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Friday, November 27 to Sunday, January 3, 2010
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm - Gates close at 8:30 pm
Price: Adults $8 and Children $5

On-line ticket sales are available here

Parking is included after 4:30 pm

Zoolights at the Calgary Zoo presented by ENMAX is one of western Canada’s most spectacular Holiday light shows. Surround your family with the beauty and splendour of over 1.5 million twinkling lights. This interactive light show immerses you in the spirit of the season and will tempt all five senses.


- Our brand NEW ENMAX Conservatory, a beautiful garden oasis in the middle of winter!
- Chat live with Santa direct from the North Pole with our exclusive SantaVision presented by RE/MAX- Video Holiday Postcard – record a holiday message for friends or family that can be sent any where in the world!
- Ice Carving demos with Frozen Memories every Friday and Saturday night!
- Kids play area with perennial favourites Reindeer Stables and SnIgloo as well as new games like March of the Penguins and SnowBall Alley
- Candy Cane Lane and the Tunnel of Love
- The Festival of Choirs 7pm -8:30 pm
- Creamy hot chocolate, crackling fire pits and smiling volunteers sharing the holiday spirit!

ZOOLIGHTS - Calgary’s Favourite Holiday Tradition!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Hiring plans rebound to year high
John Morrissy, Financial Post
Published: Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Hiring intentions are at their highest level in 12 months, bouncing off the depths of the downturn and promising slightly better times for workers in 2010, the results of a Manpower Inc. survey suggest.

The placement firm's quarterly employment outlook has jumped to a reading of 13 for the first quarter of 2010, a much healthier rebound than during the "jobless recovery" of the early 90s, when negative hiring intentions stretched on for three years.

Although this recession left 400,000 Canadians out of work, the labour market appears to be on the mend, adding 79,100 jobs in November, according to the latest Statistics Canada report.

Manpower says Monday's data herald a "hopeful" hiring climate, although once seasonal adjusting is removed, the numbers don't suggest employment will change much during the quarter.

The survey of more than 1,900 Canadian employers showed that 70 per cent expect to maintain current staffing levels, while 15% will increase and 13% will decrease staffing, suggesting a net employment outlook of plus two, meaning only two per cent of all employers will actually be hiring.

"Employers are telling us that they plan to hire but at a more conservative pace than during the same time last year," said Manpower vice-president Lori Rogers.

Nevertheless, the quarterly reading, at 13, is returning to near-historical norms, after having averaged approximately 16 during the 2000s.

After readings of minus one and minus two in the second and third quarters of 2009 respectively, the index climbed to seven in the fourth quarter of 2009. At its current reading of 13, it still lags the reading of 18 posted one year ago.

Based on net employment outlook, hiring intentions are highest in Western Canada, with a reading of plus seven, via strength in the services and mining sectors.

Atlantic Canada posts a reading of plus five, thanks to strength in finance, insurance and real estate.

Ontario posts a reading of plus one, the result of sectoral strength in finance, insurance and real estate being offset by weakness in construction and mining.

And Quebec posts the lowest net employment outlook, with optimism in the transportation and public utilities sectors held back by weak hiring intentions in mining and services.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Biggest one-month gain in Canadian jobs since September 2008
December 4, 2009

Canada's economy created 79,100 jobs in November, busting through forecasts for a modest 15,000 job increase. This rise eclipsed the 43,200 jobs lost in October and is consistent with an acceleration in growth in the economy. The unemployment rate edged down to 8.5% from 8.6% in October as the strong employment gains outstripped the 65,800 rise in the labour force in the month.
November's gain in employment reflected a rebound in part-time employment which rose 40,400 partially recovering the 59,700 drop recorded in October. Full-time jobs increased by 38,600 for a total of 146,700 jobs created during the past three months. Both private companies and the public sector were hiring in November with the largest increases in employment in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
Gains were concentrated in the services-producing industries, which added 73,000 jobs and more than reversed October's 37,000 loss. A surge in hiring in educational services of 37,900 accounted for one-half the service-sector increase. Retail and wholesale trade were steady after 30,800 positions were cut in October. Finance, insurance and real estate, professional services and public administration posted solid gains in the month. In the goods-producing industries a modest 6,200 jobs were created, almost exactly recovering the 6,300 positions cut in October. Manufacturers added to their payrolls, while employment in construction and utilities was cut back.
The annual gain in the average hourly wage rate for permanent workers slowed in November to 2.1% from 2.9% in October, the slowest annual pace since March 2007.
The labour data have been very volatile but, on net, 66,500 jobs were created in the three months to November, which supports our call for more robust growth in the fourth quarter. Still, the amount of slack generated during the recession is consistent with the unemployment rate remaining relatively high, at least until the pace of economic growth heats up enough to chew through some of the large output gap.
The start to the recovery — Canada's economy grew at a 0.4% annualized pace in the third quarter — fell short of the Bank of Canada's forecast, supporting the case for monetary policy to remain stimulative until the recovery builds momentum. The soft start also keeps alive the risk that the unemployment rate will rise in the months ahead and is consistent with inflation pressures remaining subdued.
Our forecast that the fourth quarter will see a much stronger pick-up in growth, with the recovery's momentum building in 2010 sets up for the unemployment rate to peak early next year and then gradually drift low. As this occurs, the Bank will look to remove monetary stimulus, although conditions aren't likely to warrant rates to start to move higher until the third quarter of next year. On balance, this week's data are not expected to cause the Bank change its stance at next week's rate setting, with the conditional commitment to a 0.25% overnight rate likely to be maintained.