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Economists renew prediction for lower interest rates for Canada in 2019

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Photo: Kurt Bauschardt/Flickr

Ahead of the Bank of Canada’s first policy meeting of the year, scheduled for next week, Capital Economics is back at it again.

The notoriously bearish economic research firm is predicting, once more, that the central bank will slash interest rates this year. It’s the exact opposite of what most observers are calling for.

“For now, as we expect the Bank’s forecasts to be… more upbeat than our own, we would not be surprised if the Bank of Canada continues to argue that it needs to raise interest rates,” reads a Capital Economics Bank of Canada Watch published today.

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“But as it becomes clear that the economy is performing worse than the Bank had anticipated, we expect the Bank to drop this line and ultimately cut interest rates at the tail end of this year,” the report continues.

After years of monetary policy easing and a sustained period of historically low interest rates used to buffer weaker economic conditions, the Bank of Canada began hiking its policy rate in July 2017.

Since then the central bank has increased the overnight rate, which influences the mortgage market, four more times by 25 basis points each. The most recent hike took place this past October, putting the overnight rate at 1.75 percent — with many experts anticipating more of the same this year and the Bank of Canada suggesting as much itself.

Capital Economics is basing its contrary prediction in part on the fact that oil prices are down 40 percent in recent months. The researcher says the central bank has “seriously underestimated” effects from the previous slump in oil prices and sees no reason why that won’t be the case this time around.

“There are already signs that the oil price slump is having a negative impact at home,” Capital Economics states, noting one estimate indicates the number of active oil rigs plunged 20 percent annually in December.

Meantime, slowing consumer spending and a cooling national housing market are other factors Capital Economics suggests will have the central bank reversing at least one of its recent hikes before the year’s end.

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Covid-19 altering Canadians’ housing needs: RBC

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Amid a pandemic-driven shift in demand as well as a surge in new listings, the Canadian housing market remained strong in August, RBC Economics reports.

Citing preliminary data from local real estate boards, RBC said that markets in many areas of the country remained “red hot” in August.

“But the bigger story might be that Covid-19 is now prompting more people to sell,” the report said, noting that new listings surged in urban centres such as Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

“We think this in part reflects the pandemic altering the housing needs of many current owners — who are opting to move, something they might not have considered just a few months ago,” it said.

RBC noted that the Toronto market saw new listings jump 57% year over year in August, powering a 40% increase in home sales.

Sales were up more than 20% from July’s near-record levels, it said.

“Clearly, [that] market has fired on all cylinders this summer, making up for the major disruption caused by Covid-19 in the spring,” RBC said.

The primary drivers of sales activity and higher prices were low-rise homes, including single-detached homes, RBC reported.

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RBC’s customer base makes it a favourite of cyber attacks – security experts

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Royal Bank of Canada is among the most targeted institutions by cyber attacks due to its broad customer base, according to an analysis by Palo Alto Networks.

From December 2019 up to present, cybercriminals have been establishing malicious pages disguised as websites by major companies to conduct phishing attempts and other similarly invasive attacks.

RBC ranked third in the most spoofed domains list, more than streaming giant Netflix and professional networking portal LinkedIn. PayPal and Apple ranked first and second, respectively.

“When you look at the broad customer base that RBC has, it makes sense, especially when you compare it to some of the other big names,” said Jen Miller-Osborn, deputy director of threat research at Palo Alto Networks. “These attackers are going after [domains] where they can make the most money, so they’re focusing on these organizations that have really broad customer bases because that really ups the number of potential victims.”

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg, Miller-Osborn outlined what consumers should be looking out for to filter our fraudulent emails.

“Typically, the ones that are going to be scam-related are trying to invoke some sort of emotional response,” Miller-Osborn said. “So they might say something like ‘Someone tried to change your password, click here to say whether or not that was you,’ or ‘Click here to confirm this charge on your statement,’ or ‘We’ve locked your account for strange activity.’ Essentially, things that will make people anxious and will make them want to click first, and not take a step back and pause to think, ‘Is that really the kind of email that my bank would usually send?’”

Other red flags include misspellings and basic grammar errors in the message, especially the sender line.

“Attackers try to closely mimic domain names, so you might see the number zero substituted for ‘o’, or a one substituted for the letter ‘l’. Little thing like an extra ‘s’ or ‘c’ in the name. These things, people tend to glance over very quickly and not notice.”

Miller-Osborn said that these measures should be done in concert with the most effective step in deflecting a spoofing attempt: Calling the bank and asking them if the email that they supposedly sent was legitimate.

 

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Queen confirms new home at Windsor Castle with Buckingham Palace for ‘selected events’

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The Queen will be returning to Windsor Castle in a matter of weeks, with Buckingham Palace only used for ‘select events’.

Her Majesty and her husband Duke of Edinburgh will first spend time privately at Sandringham when they leave Balmoral next week, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

She had been spending summer at her retreat in Aberdeenshire amid speculation that she would not return to the capital amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will depart Balmoral Castle during the week commencing September 14 to spend time privately on the Sandringham Estate.

“Subject to the finalisation of the autumn programme, Her Majesty’s intention is to return to Windsor Castle in October and to resume the use of Buckingham Palace for selected audiences and engagements.

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