The Canadian economy closed 2017 on somewhat of a disappointing note, growing just 1.7 per cent in the fourth quarter. The consensus forecast of economists was for growth north of 2 per cent. The slowdown in growth was primarily due to slower household spending, which posted its lowest rate of growth in almost two years. Due to a very strong first half of the year win which the economy expanded at a more than 4 per cent rate, for the year as a whole Canadian real GDP grew at a rate of 3 per cent, the strongest growth since 2011.
Most estimates now put the Canadian economy at or very close to full-employment, meaning that there is little room for Canadian firms to expand output without putting undue pressure on inflation. Given that, we are forecasting that the Bank of Canada will follow up its January rate increase with at least one more rate increase in 2018. However, a larger than expected slowdown in growth over the second half of 2017 means the Bank will likely hold off until it can properly assess the impact not only of its own tightening over the past year, but also the impact of newly implemented B20 guidelines on mortgage qualification rules.
Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.