• Expectations for real-estate gains climb most since 2014
  • National index hits 2016 high, driven by B.C. and prairies

Optimism for housing prices in Canada has reached a two-year high as consumer confidence continues its upward march.

The share of Canadians expecting home prices to increase in their neighborhoods over the next six months rose to 43.3 percent last week, the highest level since October 2014, polling for the Bloomberg Nanos Consumer Confidence Index shows. At the start of this year, just 30.6 percent believed home prices would increase.

Nationally, the broad consumer confidence score reached a 2016 high of 57.7, driven by record levels in British Columbia and a rebound in the energy-rich prairies, where optimism rose to a 2016 high of 48.9 despite the commodities price crunch and a wildfire near Alberta’s oil sands that has sapped production levels.

Despite the upward trend, the sub-indexes show uncertainty looming. While the expectations index -- measuring optimism for real estate and the broader economy -- rose to 57.0 from 55.0, the pocketbook index that measures personal finances slipped to 58.4 from 58.9.

“The latest economic data releases hint at upcoming issues for the economy and the labor force,” Bloomberg economist Robert Lawrie said. Manufacturing shipments, imports and exports have all declined as of late,“highlighting Canada’s dependency on global economic trends and the impact of the commodities glut,” he said.

Households continue to be impacted by job losses in manufacturing and gains in the service sector -- a sign of Canada’s transition “away from basic materials and toward higher value-added enterprises,” Lawrie said.

Economic Outlook

Statistics Canada data last week showed a slender net loss of 2,100 positions in April, however the economy added almost 50,000 jobs in consumer-related sectors. Consumer spending also tempered a 0.1 percent contraction in gross domestic product in February.

According to the Nanos data, the share of those expecting the Canadian economy to gain strength in the next six months rose to 27.6 percent, the highest level since November.

The share of those who say their personal finances have improved over the past year rose to 14.8 percent from 14.5, while the share of those whose finances worsened declined to 28.9 from 29.3 -- leaving the net difference between the two measures at its lowest level since January. The share of those who say their employment is either somewhat or not at all secure, however, rose to 14.5 percent from 13.4 percent a week earlier.

The data is based on a rolling four-week average of telephone polling totaling 1,000 respondents. It’s considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, with larger margins of error in regional data. The latest polling concluded on May 6.

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