No Contest: Toronto rises above all
The risk of strain in Canada’s real estate market and concern of a housing bubble in Toronto and Vancouver receives much attention. But the extent to which Toronto leads its North American peers in terms of buildings under construction is staggering.
With 148 skyscrapers and high-rises being built, according to data compiled by Hamburg-based Emporis, no North American city comes even close.
More than two-thirds of the new projects are for housing, according to a report last week by Bloomberg, which cited figures from SkyscraperPage.com.
Emporis, which counts housing and office space together, defines a high-rise as a multi-storey building of 35 metres to 100 metres, or as a building of unknown height with 12 to 39 floors. Buildings taller than 100 metres are counted as skyscrapers.
Of course, the number of tall buildings is just one measure of the real estate market. One has to also consider the number of low rises and standalone structures that are under construction, among other factors – and consider how this supply stacks up against demand.
Canada’s new gold rush
The world wants less of Canada’s natural gas and more of its gold.
The country’s exports of natural gas slumped in 2011 to their lowest annual levels since the late 1990s, in terms of both value and volume. Business got squeezed mainly by warmer U.S. weather that crimped demand for heating energy, higher U.S. production and by the lowest prices per cubic feet in more than a decade.
In December, gas represented less than 2 per cent of the value of total exports, the least since the 1970s, according to a report by Douglas Porter, an economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns.
“Partly stepping in to fill the void, sales of precious metals have surged, amid strong volumes and prices,” Mr. Porter said. “These metals exports topped $20-billion last year, accounted for a record 4.5 per cent share of total exports, and pushed above a 5 per cent share in December alone.”
The price of gold has risen for 11 consecutive years and climbed to a record last September.
Is China falling out of love with U.S. Treasuries?
The debt crisis in Europe has dominated attention lately, but new data has put the focus on the borrowings of another highly indebted region: the United States.
China, the biggest foreign owner of U.S. government bonds, cut its holdings in December to the lowest level since June 2010, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The Asian nation cut its holdings by $31.9-billion (U.S.) to $1.1-trillion, the third consecutive monthly decrease.
Analysts are divided on what the change means: a temporary shift toward Europe to help the region shore up its finances; a strategic move away from the U.S. on concern a weakening currency and low interest rates will cut investment returns; or a simple dip that doesn’t mean that much. Any signal by China that it’s dumping its holdings could send other investors rushing for the exits and ultimately hurt the value of China’s U.S. investments.
U.S. Treasuries are also losing their appeal for Russia, which cut its holdings for the 14th consecutive month.
But some other nations boosted their possession of Treasuries. Japan, the No. 2 owner of U.S. debt, raised its holdings to $1.04-trillion, and Canada increased its to $96.6-billion. For both countries, that’s their highest levels on record.