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A deteriorating European economy and weak global growth will keep the Bank of Canada from raising rates for at least another year, though an interest rate cut looks highly unlikely, according to a Reuters survey.
The Reuters poll of 41 economists and strategists released on Tuesday showed the median forecast for the next interest rate hike was pushed back by three months to the first quarter of 2013 from the fourth quarter of 2012 projected in a November poll. The Bank of Canada’s target for the overnight rate — its main policy rate — has been at 1% for more than a year.
“The longer we spend struggling with slower growth and the longer we go without the Europeans coming to some cohesive policy solution, the worse the economic drag will be,” said David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities.
“You get the sense that growth I think is likely to remain lower for longer, just like interest rates.”
Investors in the first quarter of 2012 are expected to focus on the heavy supply of eurozone debt coming due, with fears about a possible lack of demand at auctions. Italian and Spanish bond sales in particular are viewed as the next big tests.
Some Canadian economic data has also been worrisome. A Bank of Canada business survey on Monday showed an increasing number of firms are pessimistic about the rate of sales growth, further reducing pressure for the central bank to take interest rates higher.
The most recent domestic jobs report also disappointed, reversing a trend that saw Canada outperform the United States both during and after the global financial crisis.
Monthly employment data on Friday showed Canada missed forecasts while the U.S. beat them. This gives the Bank of Canada even less impetus to tighten policy before the U.S. Federal Reserve, which has said it expects to keep its key interest rate near zero through mid-2013.
But many analysts expect an even longer pause, and bet the Fed’s next move will be to stimulate the economy, rather than tighten monetary policy.
“If the Fed comes out with its published interest rate forecast at the end of the month and says the consensus points to an even longer hold than the middle of 2013 then that could handicap the Bank of Canada to an even greater extent,” said Derek Holt, vice president of economics at Scotia Capital.
Yet many analysts say the case for an interest rate cut is difficult. Governor Mark Carney has repeatedly warned about the dangers of Canadians borrowing too much as a result of very low interest rates. Data last month showed the level of household debt swelled to another record high in the third quarter.
“A cut in the policy rate anytime in 2012 is extremely unlikely. It would take a global recession of 2008 proportions for the BoC to even consider cutting policy rates,” said Carlos Leitao, chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities in Montreal. “In our view, 1% is the new, effective, zero-bound.”
Of the 41 contributors, 35 see a rate hike happening after the second quarter of 2012. Five forecasters — BNP Paribas, Capital Economics, Goldman Sachs, IFR Markets and ING Financial — predicted a rate cut across the forecast horizon, up from only three forecasters in the last poll. All five expect the cut by mid-2012.
The possibility of an ease has been anticipated in overnight index swaps for some time, though the timing has been pushed out.
Forecasts for official interest rates at the end of 2012 also dropped from the previous poll — with the median target declining to 1%, from 1.25% in November — indicating one less rate increase next year than was previously assumed.
Interest rate expectations for the four quarters of 2012 have been downgraded continuously in all nine global Reuters polls conducted since last January, with the target for the first quarter of 2012 revised down to 1% from 2.25%.
The poll showed a 99% probability there won’t be a change in rates at the next policy announcement on Jan 17.
A majority of homeowners in British Columbia won’t know what has happened to their property value over the past year until they receive their annual BC Assessment notice in early January 2012.
Each year, BC Assessment sends out Property Assessment Notices on December 31 for nearly two million properties in British Columbia. Local real estate sales determine the property values that BC Assessment reports based on a market value approach with a July 1 valuation date.
However, some BC property owners have received an early indication of what to expect when BC Assessment releases their 2012 Assessment Roll figures on Tuesday, January 3, 2012.
On December 5, 2011, BC Assessment sent out approximately 10,000 “Extreme Value Change” information letters to BC property owners where the assessed value of their property increased by 30% or more above their local area.
These BCA information letters are sent to property owners as part of the pre-roll consultation process for significant value change where the assessed value of a property increases more than the average increase in an area.
“Generally speaking, for property owners whose 2012 assessments have increased 30% or more above the average increase for their local community, we have provided advanced letters informing them of this change,” said Tim Morrison, Communications Coordinator for BC Assessment, in an interview with BuyRIC.com.
“For example, if the average market increase for a specific property type within a specific jurisdiction was 5% and your property increase was 35% or higher, then you would likely receive an advanced letter.”
This advanced information indicates that approximately 10,000 BC property owners across the province will see a 30% or higher than average increase in their 2012 assessment notices.
The most significant 2012 property assessment increases in British Columbia occurred in Vancouver. BC Assessment sent out approximately 1,800 of these “Extreme Value Change” letters to Vancouver property owners and approximately 800 to the North Shore, including West Vancouver and North Vancouver property owners.
Morrison added, “We provide impacted property owners with advanced notification in order to make them aware that the change will likely result in an increase in their 2012 property taxes as determined by their local municipality.”
“We want to ensure that people know that they can contact us, so that we can work with them in explaining our market analysis techniques used to assess their properties.”
BC Assessment serves to ensure accurate, fair, and equitable annual assessments throughout British Columbia. Local governments and other taxing authorities are responsible for property taxation and, after determining their own budget needs in the spring, will decide their property tax rates based on the assessment roll for their jurisdiction.
These “Extreme Value Change” information letters are part of BC Assessments “no surprises” focus to engage BC property owners and local governments on changes that might have a big impact on property valuations.
Ongoing audits, reviews, and market analyses are part of BC Assessment’s quality assurance commitment to property owners.