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business briefing

Briefing highlights

  • Comparing condo prices
  • It’s National Tell A Joke Day
  • Markets at a glance
  • Walmart e-commerce, same-store sales jump
  • Manufacturing sales rise in June
  • U.S. judge orders Keystone XL review

Downtown condo living

Vancouver and Toronto have been singled out by many observers for their high home prices, but a fresh look shows downtown condo living in several Canadian cities compares well on a global basis.

Indeed, Vancouver prices may top those of Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm, but they pale in comparison to Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris.

Ditto for Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Quebec, all of which cost significantly less than the most expensive cities to live in the world.

Those are the findings of Matthieu Arseneau, National Bank Financial’s deputy chief economist, who compared ownership prices of “comparably sized” downtown condos across 24 cities.

So, for example, a 645-square-foot unit in downtown Toronto would go for US$460,000, at US$708 per square foot.

This excludes, of course, other factors beyond prices, such as income levels and taxes.

Here’s Mr. Arseneau’s global look, which shows that “you still get good value for your money” in Canada.

Mr. Arseneau also cited an Economist Intelligence Unit report this week that found Calgary ranked No. 4 for “liveability” among 140 global cities. Vancouver was No. 6, Toronto No. 7 and Montreal No. 19.

“One would assume that quality of life necessarily translates with a large premium on home prices, but that is not always the case,” he said in a report.

Indeed, “Canadian cities are far from being overpriced by international standards.” And when you add in the liveability aspect, “home prices in Canada’s four largest cities look even more attractive when controlling for quality of life.”

Of course, condo prices in Canada are also on their way up, rising 10.1 per cent in July from a year earlier, according to Canadian Real Estate Association numbers released Wednesday.

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Today is National Tell A Joke Day

Have you heard this one? What does the 'F' in NAFTA stand for?

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Markets at a glance

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Manufacturing sales up

Petroleum and coal were behind a 1.1-per-cent jump in Canadian manufacturing sales in June, climbing almost 16 per cent after production resumed from temporary shutdowns and regular maintenance.

Inventory levels rose 0.5 per cent, Statistics Canada said today, unfilled orders climbed 1.7 per cent, and new orders fell 1.8 per cent.

“Declines in sales were seen in a number of industries, including chemicals and food products,” said Andrew Grantham of CIBC World Markets.

“With the overall increase in volumes coming in at 0.7 per cent, and inventories up slightly, the manufacturing sector should still be a modest positive contributor to monthly GDP,” he added.

“However, that should be factored into most people’s forecasts already and as such today’s data shouldn’t move markets much or change our tracking forecast for Q2 GDP, which is currently a shade over 3 per cent annualized.”

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