As winter approaches we are now less than one month away from the US Federal Reserve's Open Market Commitee (FMOC) December meeting. At that time,the FOMC will decide whether or not to start raising interest rates. The last time the Fed raised interest rates was back in June 2006. The announcement will be similar to a doctor's decision that a patient is well enough to be gradually taken off medication. Finally it seems that the US economy is healthy enough to have borrowing costs return to "normal" levels. Putting that in perspective,it will be the first interest rate hike for an entire generation of millenials that has had less than a decade of work experience.
Back in Canada, the economy continues to remain soft with lower prices in commodities. However, a weaker loonie and a healthy US economy will boost demand for Canadian made goods. While the Canadian dollar continues to hover around the 75 US cent mark, it may fall further in the coming months. If the Fed does raise interest rates as many expect, the upward pressure on the US dollar will weigh on the loonie. Given our slowing economy it is very unlikely that the Bank of Canada will raise interest rates anytime soon.
Recently, Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau provided an update of the new governments view on the economic and fiscal outlook for Canada. Although firm numbers will not be available until the 2016 Budget is released. Liberal platform promises,particulary on infrastructure spending should help to boost near-term growth.
As for commodity prices, they continue to remain weak and are now reaching lows not seen in about 5 years. Crude oil,natural gas,base metals,gold and agricultural commodity prices were the hardest hit. Much of the decline in commodity prices has stemmed from concern that growth is slowing in China. Also, the appreciation of the US dollar adds downward pressure on commodity prices. The Commodity Price Index is now at its lowest level since early 2009. At some point,this will reverse. I continue to monitor the US PowerShares DB Commidity Index Tracking Fund (US ticker:DBC) for any signs of strength.
In Europe, the impact of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali will stay in our hearts and minds long after any economic cost is recouped. The human toll is immesureable. Unfortunately, we have a long history of terrorist attacks worldwide over the past 25 years. Historically, major acts of terrorism have not had any lasting negative effects on financial markets. Further support for stocks in France and Europe may come from the European Central Bank (ECB) at its upcoming December 3rd meeting. ECB members have been signaling for a further cut to interest rates and an extension of its quantative easing (QE) program.
Last, while difficult to think about financial matters in the face of recent horrific events,the resiliance of both the people and economies around the world should give us all hope for the future. Thank you for your business and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding your portfolios. I wish you and your families all the best during the holiday season and New Year.
Best Regards, Lisa