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Corporate debt: when cheap is expensive (can akat/iStockphoto)
Corporate debt: when cheap is expensive (can akat/iStockphoto)

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50% of Canadians expect to carry mortgage in retirement Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, May 16, 2012. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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Many see carrying mortgage Ever wonder whether your retirement years will be mortgage-free?

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Fifty-one per cent of Canadian homeowners believe they'll still be paying, according to a survey released today by Bank of Montreal.

Fifty-two per cent say their debt burden or mortgage is causing them trouble in saving for their retirement years, the survey by Leger Marketing showed.

On a regional basis, those feeling the heat most are in British Columbia, where 59 per cent think they'll still be paying, followed by 58 per cent in Quebec, 48 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 47 per cent in Ontario, 46 per cent in Alberta, and 43 per cent in the eastern provinces.

Luxury market strong Canada's real estate market may be cooling, but a new report says high-end homes are still going strong.

Re/Max said today its Upper-End Report (which has something of a ring to it) found continuing demand for luxury abodes in the first quarter of the year.

Thirteen of 16 major cities saw an increase in price, the majority in the double-digit area. Ten centres set records. Regina saw the heftiest gains, followed by Quebec City, Toronto and the Ontario regions of London and Kitchener-Waterloo.

The Re/Max report suggests that the affluent among us aren't being held back in this era of uncertainty.

"While the ranks of the rich expand in both population and wealth, their impact on the Canadian residential landscape is undeniable," said Michael Polzler, an executive vice-president at the real estate company.

"Their confidence abounds from coast-to-coast, irrespective of price point. Starting prices range from a low of $500,000 in markets like St. John’s and Halifax-Dartmouth to a high of $2-million in Greater Vancouver, and affluent homebuyers are still prepared to up the ante - choosing to further renovate or altogether teardown and custom build to suit their needs."

Oh, to have the money to tear down a big place and build anew.

One of the things that struck me in the report is how higher end homes are "redefining luxury," as Re/Max put it.

"When it comes to bells and whistles, toys and technology, the features homeowners are incorporating into their residences are becoming decidedly more progressive," it said.

And while financing isn't really a concern - I guess it wouldn't be - those spending in the millions are still locking in for five years.

Canada's most expensive homes can be found in Vancouver's Westside, Re/Max said, citing a "palatial historic home in Shaughnessy" as the costliest, at almost $32-million.

It's all a far cry from the regular market, where Vancouver is seeing steady declines, as The Globe and Mail's Paul Waldie and Tavia Grant write in today's Report on Business.

Factory sales climb The gears are grinding at Canada's factories.

Manufacturing sales climbed 1.9 per cent in March, marking the biggest gain since September 2011, Statistics Canada said today. Sales were up in 13 of the 21 industries measured by the agency, or more than 75 per cent of the entire sector.

Sales of big--ticket items rose 1.4 per cent, while non-durable goods registered an increase of 2.4 per cent.

Sales of oil and coal led the way, Statistics Canada said.

There was some good news in the report for struggling Ontario, the province that, along with New Brunswick and Quebec, chalked up the heftiest increase.

Inventory levels fell 1.2 per cent - that's the biggest drop since September 2009 - while unfilled orders increased by 2 per cent for the second consecutive month of increases.

"Looking more closely at the breakdown, autos recovered in March, rising by 2.3 per cent after a sharp plunge previously - suggesting that a broad increase in vehicle demand stateside is continuing to support domestic factories," said Emanuella Enenajor of CIBC World Markets.

"The only fly in the ointment was a 1.2-per-cent fall in inventories, suggesting that some of the month’s gains in sales didn’t necessarily come from a ramp-up in production. Today’s data suggest GDP in March could rebound heartily after the February contraction."

Forget the Jubilee and get to work The Bank of England has cut its forecast for economic growth in Britain amid the turmoil in the euro zone.

The central bank now expects the economy to expand at a pace just shy of 1 per cent this year, and by 2 per cent in 2013.

"The prospects for U.K. growth remain unusually uncertain," the central bank said in a quarterly report today.

"The single biggest threat to the recovery stems from the challenges within the euro area, in particular the need to reduce the indebtedness and improve the competitiveness of some member countries. Even if a credible and effective set of policies is successfully implemented, the scale of the necessary adjustments suggests that a prolonged period of sluggish growth and heightened uncertainty is likely."

Also expect to dampen output this year is the holiday associated with the Queen's Jubilee, and the Olympic Games.

While the exact hit isn't known, the Bank of England said the two events are likely to dampen growth in the second quarter to the tune of about half a percentage point, though boost it by slightly more than that in the third quarter, and lower it again in the final quarter of the year.

Facebook to offer more stock Facebook hasn't only boosted the price range for its initial public offering, it has also now hiked the amount of shares that will be offered.

Facebook itself still plans to offer 180 million shares, but existing stockholders have increased the number of shares they're selling to more than 241 million, up from the original 157.4 million.

The price range is still $34 (U.S.) to $38.

Together, the sales could bring in up to $16-billion.

Bigger iPhone screen? Users of iPhones may soon be able to see Facebook on bigger screens.

Apple Inc. has ordered screens from suppliers for its next version of the popular device that are larger than the current ones, The Wall Street Journal reports today.

This comes after Samsung Electronics Co. released a device with a 4.8-inch screen.

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