29 Jan 2020
Interest Rates Plunge on Coronavirus News; BoC Buys 10-year CMBs; FTHBI Plan Flops
Canadian 5-year Yield Fell To Lowest Level Since October
Global investors are selling stocks and piling into the safety of bonds in response to fears that the Wuhan coronavirus could disrupt global economic activity. Gold prices, another haven, have also risen. The Government of Canada 5-year bond yield traded this morning at roughly 1.35%, well below its nearly 1.70% level one month ago. The 5-year yield leads fixed mortgage rates, so if this trend persists, we might see widely available fixed-5-year rates in the 2.50% range once again in February.
Bank of Canada Now Buying 10-year CMBs
The Bank of Canada announced yesterday that effective immediately, the Bank will expand the Canada Mortgage-Backed securities (CMBs, which are government-guaranteed) it can purchase in the primary market to include 10-year fixed-rate bond issues. In 2018, The Bank expanded the assets it acquires to 5-year fixed and floating CMBs. The Bank held $517 million of these 5-year CMBs as of November 30, 2019.
This move by the BoC should improve liquidity, reducing yields on 10-year CMBs, possibly lowering 10-year fixed rates for mortgage borrowers. Governor Poloz supports efforts to extend the duration of mortgages.
First-Time Homebuyers Incentive Plan Flops
Only about 3,000 applicants were approved for the Liberals’ First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) in 2019. That’s just $55 million in funding, a less-than-stellar start given its $1.25-billion three-year target. (This information is according to attendees at the TD Securities’ Financial Services Conference where CMHC made comments.)