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(1--Sarah Dea/Sarah Dea/The Globe and Mail)
(1--Sarah Dea/Sarah Dea/The Globe and Mail)

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Vancouver, Toronto to feel brunt as home prices fall: TD Add to ...

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House prices to drop Toronto-Dominion Bank economists expect existing home sales to sink 15.2 per cent, and average prices 10.2 per cent, over the next two years, in what they see as a "moderate correction" in Canada's real estate industry. Those projections compare to the first quarter of this year.

Vancouver and Toronto will see "a more significant cool down," though Calgary and Edmonton will outperform, Derek Burleton and Sonya Gulati said in a report today.

"A combination of more subdued job and household income growth, rising interest rates, the recent tightening in borrowing rules for insured mortgages and fewer first-time home buyers are expected to be the chief culprits behind the slowdown," they said.

"With most of these drivers expected to remain supportive to housing demand in the very near term, we anticipate that the brunt of this adjustment will take place in 2012 and into 2013."

But the national picture, they added, masks the regional differences in the 12 major centres they studied.

"Vancouver and Toronto look poised for larger-than-average declines over the next few years, reflecting in part their exposure to the condominium segment, which appears particularly ripe for a correction," the TD economists said.

"At the other end of the spectrum, prospects are considerably better for housing markets in Calgary, Edmonton and Regina. Still, no market is likely to experience a housing boom over the medium term."

Murdoch drops BSkyB bid Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. empire has been under attack in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, has pulled his bid to take control of British Sky Broadcasting.

The bid for the 61-per-cent he doesn't already own was in jeopardy regardless, set back by several months as the proposal was sent to Britain's competition watchdog for review.

Bernanke stands ready to move Ben Bernanke appears to have buoyed some hopes that there could yet be a QE3.

Mr. Bernanke told the House today that the Federal Reserve is prepared for more stimulus if needed, sending a signal to some market players that the U.S. central bank could bring in another round of quantitative easing. The last round, dubbed QE2, just ended.

"The possibility remains that the recent economic weakness may prove more persistent than expected and that deflationary risks might re-emerge, implying a need for additional policy support," Mr. Bernanke said.

His talk reflected the "large amount of uncertainty" in the economic climate at this stage, said senior economist James Marple of Toronto-Dominion Bank.

"With risks from Europe and ambiguity over the political landscape in Washington, the Fed is just as unsure as anyone else is," Mr. Marple said. "While they expect economic growth to improve, they are not willing to bet the farm on it and are prepared to do what is necessary if conditions deviate from expectations."

OPTI in court protection OPTI Canada Inc. , the small oil sands company that proposed revolutionizing the business with Israeli technology, has filed for court protection as the firm works to fix its balance sheet, The Globe and Mail's David Ebner writes.

OPTI said it has reached deals with key bondholders to exchange two series of senior secured notes due in 2014 for new common stock in the company, which will inject a planned $375-million of equity to give life to the hobbled firm.

China growth dips That huge sigh of relief you may have heard in the markets this morning was all about China.

China has been a source of concern as its growth has helped fuel the global rebound, and many have feared a slowdown as Beijing fights huge inflationary pressures, forcing the People's Bank of China to move forcefully.

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