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business briefing

Briefing highlights

  • How Brexit could affect Canada
  • Global markets tumble
  • Video: Can you protect your job from robots?

Brexit and Canada

Europe’s troubles may seem a world away, but they could wash up on Canada’s shores in more ways than one.

Notably, says BMO Nesbitt Burns, by “further fanning the flames” in the housing market, should British voters opt to quit the European Union in next week’s Brexit referendum.

Already, the polls in the runup to the vote have sparked turmoil in stock, bond and currency markets. And watch out if the pro-Brexit forces win.

“If the ‘Leave’ side prevails in next week’s Brexit vote, as polls now suggest, global interest rates are likely to remain even lower for even longer amid the deep uncertainty over the U.K.’s and the EU’s economic fate and likely financial market volatility,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter and senior economist Robert Kavcic said yesterday.

“In that event, the Fed will remain on ice even longer and Canadian rates will again probe all-time lows, keeping mortgage rates at an extremely low ebb and thus further fanning the flames in the domestic housing market,” they added in a report on what’s driving property values sharply higher in Vancouver and Toronto.

Should that happen, Mr. Kavcic added in an interview, Canadian government bond yields could follow global yields lower, thus suppressing mortgage rates. Canada’s five-year fixed rate, for example, is tied to yields.

Of course, that’s not necessarily a good thing given what Brexit would mean to Europe’s economies and how it would ripple through the global economy.

Federal

Reserve chair Janet Yellen noted yesterday how the referendum played into the U.S. central bank’s decision yesterday to sit on its hands, not that anyone was expecting a rate hike.

“It is a decision that could have consequences for economic and financial conditions in global financial markets,” Ms. Yellen told reporters after the Fed held its benchmark rate steady.

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