China has made major progress in developing its economy and eradicating rural poverty over the past year despite the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a New Year’s address Thursday.
China was the first major economy to register positive economic growth in 2020, with its gross domestic product expected to exceed 100 trillion yuan (about $19-trillion) for the year, Mr. Xi said on nationwide television, speaking from behind his desk in his wood-panelled office.
The International Monetary Fund forecast in October that China, the world’s second-largest economy, would grow 1.9 per cent in 2020, a sharp slowdown from its 6.1-per-cent gain in 2019, and then expand 8.2 per cent in 2021.
That compares with an IMF forecast for a global economic contraction of 4.4 per cent for 2020, the worst plunge since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
China has largely ended domestic transmission of the coronavirus, but Mr. Xi’s speech came as the government is ordering additional measures to prevent a resurgence over coming months.
China is encouraging tens of millions of migrant workers not to travel home during February’s Lunar New Year holiday to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, disrupting the most important family gathering of the year. Schools countrywide are also scheduled to begin the Lunar New Year vacation a week early and tourists have been told not to visit the capital Beijing during the holiday.
Mr. Xi called for increased international co-operation in fighting the virus, which is believed to have emerged from the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
“People across the world should make joint efforts to drive away the dark clouds of the COVID-19 pandemic at an early date and build the planet Earth into a better home for all humanity,” Mr. Xi said.
Mr. Xi also hailed progress in lifting close to 100 million rural Chinese out of poverty over the past eight years and in “fully building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.”
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Toronto Stock Exchange trades flat with Fed speakers in focus
Toronto Stock Exchange index traded flat on Tuesday as investors looked to the upcoming speeches from U.S. Federal Reserve officials after the central bank’s hawkish tilt last week weighed on risk-driven assets.
* At 9:42 a.m. ET (13:42 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.02 points, or 0.08%, at 20,172.38.
* All eyes are on the U.S. central bank, after the Fed last week signaled a potentially tougher stance on inflation and shifted projections for its first two rate hikes into 2023, sparking a selloff in global stocks.
* But strength in commodity prices, as well as renewed buying into technology stocks, had seen the TSX scale record highs last week.
* The heavyweight energy sector dropped 1.2% as U.S. crude prices were down 0.3% a barrel, while Brent crude lost 0.2%. [O/R]
* The financials sector slipped 0.1%. The industrials sector rose 0.3%.
* Fertilizer maker Nutrien rose 2% after it outlined plans to increase potash output in the wake of European Union sanctions on Belarus.
* On the TSX, 93 issues were higher, while 130 issues declined for a 1.40-to-1 ratio to the downside, with 21.25 million shares traded.
* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Ballard Power, which jumped 2.7% receiving a follow-on order for fuel cells, and Alimentation Couche-Tard, which rose 2.5%.
* Kinross Gold fell 4.7%, the most on the TSX, while the second biggest decliner was Endeavour Silver, down 2.8% as precious metal prices slipped o
Canadian regulator lifts banks’ capital buffer to record, priming for post-pandemic world
Canada‘s financial regulator raised the amount of capital the country’s biggest lenders must hold to guard against risks to a record 2.5% of risk-weighted assets, from 1% currently, in a surprise move that could pave the way for them to resume dividend increases and share buybacks.
The new measures, which take effect on Oct. 31, is a sign that the economic and market disruptions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic have abated and banks’ capital levels have been resilient, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) said in a statement.
But the regulator acknowledged that key vulnerabilities, including household and corporate debt levels, as well as asset imbalances caused by steep increase in home prices over the past year, remain.
In a sign of concern about the housing market, OSFI and the Canadian government raised the benchmark to determine the minimum qualifying rate for mortgages, starting June 1.
The increase in the Domestic Stability Buffer (DSB) to the highest possible level raises the Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital – the core bank capital measure – to 10.5% of risk-weighted assets; a 4.5% base level, a “capital conservation buffer” of 2.5%, and a 1% surcharge for systemically important banks, plus the DSB.
The change “gives OSFI more leeway to loosen a restriction down the road, namely the freeze on buybacks and dividend increases,” National Bank Financial Analyst Gabriel Dechaine said.
OSFI felt it was “useful for the banks to understand what our minimal capital expectations are and to give them time to adjust to that… ahead of any lifting of the temporary capital distribution restrictions,” Assistant Superintendent Jamey Hubbs said on a media call.
Even with the higher requirement, Canada‘s six biggest banks would have excess capital of about C$51 billion, dropping from C$82 billion as of April 30, according to Reuters calculations.
That was driven in part by a moratorium on dividend increases and share buybacks imposed by OSFI in March 2020, although a pandemic-driven surge in loan losses has so far failed to materialize.
The Canadian banks index slipped 0.25% in morning trading in Toronto, while the Toronto stock benchmark fell 0.1%.
The increase is the first since the last one announced in December 2019, which did not come into effect as planned in April 2020, as OSFI made an out-of-schedule change https://www.reuters.com/article/canada-mortgages-regulation-idUSL1N2B636J that dropped the rate to 1% in March. It has maintained that level at its twice yearly reviews.
Prior to that, OSFI had raised the required level by 25 basis points at every twice yearly review since it was introduced at 1.5% in June 2018.
($1 = 1.2326 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis)
Canada Economic Indicators
The economic indicators used to gauge the performance of an economy and its outlook are the same across most nations. What differs is the relative importance of certain indicators to a specific economy at various points in time (for instance, housing indicators are closely watched when the housing market is booming or slumping), and the bodies or organizations compiling and disseminating these indicators in each nation.
Here are the 12 key economic indicators for Canada, the world’s 10th-largest economy:1
Statistics Canada, a national agency, publishes growth statistics on the Canadian economy on monthly and quarterly bases. The report shows the real gross domestic product (GDP) for the overall economy and broken down by industry. It is an accurate monthly/quarterly status report on the Canadian economy and each industry within it.2
Employment Change and Unemployment
Key data on the Canadian employment market, such as the net change in employment, the unemployment rate, and participation rate, is contained in the monthly Labour Force Survey, released by Statistics Canada. The report contains a wealth of information about the Canadian job market, categorized by the demographic, class of worker (private sector employee, public sector employee, self-employed), industry, and province.3
Consumer Price Index
Statistics Canada releases a monthly report on the consumer price index (CPI) that measures inflation at the consumer level. The index is constructed by comparing changes over time in a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. The report shows the change in CPI monthly and over the past 12 months, on an overall and core (excluding food and energy prices) basis.4
International Merchandise Trade
This monthly report from Statistics Canada shows the nation’s imports and exports, as well as the net merchandise trade surplus or deficit. The report also compares the most current data with that for the preceding month. Exports and imports are shown by product category, and also for Canada’s top ten trading partners.5
Teranet – National Bank House Price Index
This composite index of house prices across Canada was developed by Teranet and the National Bank of Canada and represents average home prices in Canada’s six largest metropolitan areas. A monthly report shows the change in the index monthly and over the past 12 months, as well as monthly and 12-month changes in Canada’s six and 11 largest metropolitan areas.6
RBC Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index – PMI
Released on the first business day of each month, this indicator of trends in the Canadian manufacturing sector was launched in June 2011 by Royal Bank of Canada, in association with Markit and the Purchasing Management Association of Canada. RBC PMI readings above 50 signal expansion as compared to the previous month, while readings below 50 signal contraction. The monthly survey also tracks other information pertinent to the manufacturing sector, such as changes in output, new orders, employment, inventories, prices, and supplier delivery times.7
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index
The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence measures consumers’ levels of optimism in the state of the economy. It is a crucial indicator of near-term sales for consumer product companies in Canada, as well as an indicator of the outlook for the broad economy since consumer demand comprises such a significant part of it. The index is constructed on the basis of responses to four questions by a random sampling of Canadian households. Survey participants are asked how they view their households’ current and expected financial positions, their short-term employment outlook, and whether now is a good time to make a major purchase.8
Ivey Purchasing Managers Index – PMI
An index prepared by the Ivey Business School at Western University, the Ivey PMI measures the monthly variation in economic activity, as indicated by a panel of purchasing managers across Canada. It is based on responses by these purchasing managers to a single question: “Were your purchases last month in dollars higher, the same, or lower than in the previous month?” An index reading below 50 shows a decrease; a reading above 50 shows an increase. Panel members indicate changes in their organization’s activity over five broad categories: purchases, employment, inventories, supplier deliveries, and prices.9
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) issues a monthly report on the sixth working day of every month, showing the previous month’s new residential construction activity. The data is presented by region, province, census metropolitan area, and dwelling type (single-detached or multiple-unit). The indicator is an important gauge of the state of the Canadian housing market.10
This key indicator of housing activity is compiled by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and is based on the number of home sales processed through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Systems of real estate boards and associations in Canada. The monthly report from the CREA shows the change in home sales across Canada, as well as for major markets, from month to month. The report also includes other important housing-related information, such as the change (as a percentage) in newly listed homes, the national sales-to-new listings ratio, months of housing inventory, the change in the MLS Home Price Index, and the national average price for homes sold within the month.11
Statistics Canada releases a monthly report on retail sales activity across Canada, with changes shown on month-over-month and year-over-year bases. The headline number shows the percentage change in national retail sales on a dollar basis; the percentage change in volume terms is also shown. The retail sales figures are shown by industry and for each province or territory, and provide insights into Canadian consumer spending.12
The building permits survey conducted monthly by Statistics Canada collects data on the value of permits issued by Canadian municipalities for residential and non-residential buildings, as well as the number of residential dwellings authorized. Since building permit issuance is one of the very first steps in the process of construction, the aggregate building permits data are very useful as a leading indicator for assessing the state of the construction industry.13
The Bottom Line
The 12 economic indicators briefly described above show the health of key aspects of Canada’s economy: consumer spending, housing, manufacturing, employment, inflation, external trade, and economic growth. Taken together, they provide a comprehensive picture of the state of the Canadian economy.