From cars to condos, market watchers will get a sense this week of what Canadians have been buying – and of how much more they’ve had to pay.
The week begins with a report on February home sales and ends with two releases on retail sales and inflation.
The Canadian Real Estate Association is expected to report Monday on how the housing market fared.
Senior economist Benjamin Reitzes of BMO Nesbitt Burns expects the report to show the number of home sales up 2 per cent from a year earlier and average prices up 8.5 per cent.
The MLS home price index, which is seen as a preferable measure to the average price, is believed to have gained by 4.9 per cent.
“Price gains remain solid despite cooling activity, reflecting relatively tight supply in major markets,” Mr. Reitzes said.
Then on Friday, a Statistics Canada report will show the extent to which shoppers returned to the stores in a still-wintry January, having stayed home in force during those icy days of December in central and eastern Canada and the snows of late 2013 in Calgary.
Economists forecast the report will show a bounce in retail sales in January of about 0.8 per cent, which wouldn’t have made up for the 1.8-per-cent drop in December.
“Unusually cold winter weather will likely have weighed on activity for a second month, and together with a decline in gasoline prices, we envision only a moderate retracement of the prior month’s weakness,” said economists at RBC Dominion Securities.
Statscan also releases its monthly look at inflation on Friday, a key report not only because consumers get to see actual numbers on how much more they’re paying for products, but also because of what it signals for the Bank of Canada.
Based on projections, expect Friday’s report to show the annual inflation rate easing to about the 1-per-cent mark.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices are believed to have increased by 0.6 per cent from January.
With droughts in vast parts of California and Brazil, and extreme cold weather in the plains and Midwest damaging crops, February saw food prices move higher – a trend that should continue in the coming months,” said economists at CIBC World markets.
“Energy prices also saw a bounce, driven by strong gasoline prices.
“There were, however, other factors that kept inflationary pressures contained. With the poor weather keeping people away from car lots, manufacturers have had to offer sometimes generous incentives for prospective new buyers.”
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