Canada Fourth-Quarter Growth Is Fastest Since 2000


Canada’s economy expanded at a 5 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, faster than predicted by the Bank of Canada, raising pressure on policy makers to increase interest rates later this year.

The economy’s fourth-quarter growth was supported by consumer spending, capital investment and trade, Statistics Canada said. Government spending also contributed to growth.

Consumer spending increased 0.9 percent in the quarter, led by durable goods such as furniture and cars. Investment in housing rose 6.5 percent.

Exports rose 3.7 percent in the October-through-December period, led by a 13 percent jump in automotive products, while imports rose 2.2 percent. Fixed-capital investment rose 1.6 percent.

On a monthly basis, the economy grew 0.6 percent in December, the fastest in three years.

Statistics Canada revised its estimate of the third-quarter growth rate to 0.9 percent from the earlier reading of a 0.4 percent pace. The agency also revised its earlier figures to show the country’s first recession since 1992 was deeper than thought, with a 7 percent annualized contraction in the first quarter of last year.

The economy shrank 2.6 percent in 2009, the most since 1982 and the third annual contraction in figures dating back to 1961.

Carney cut the benchmark lending rate in April to the lowest since the bank was founded in 1934 and pledged to keep it there through the first half of this year unless the inflation outlook shifted.

The return of growth still hasn’t brought unemployment down much from the highest in more than a decade and exporters are still struggling with a strong currency and weak U.S. orders.

Canada’s dollar appreciated 21 percent against the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months to about 95 U.S. cents. The currency traded at about 63.6 U.S. cents at the end of 2002, and manufacturers have been squeezed by its gain, along with increased competition from emerging markets such as China.

The strength of the currency and weak U.S. orders will slow economic growth this year, the Bank of Canada said in January.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
3/1/2010 9:42:18 AM