Canada’s Economy Sees Surprise Growth In Latest StatCan Data

A November cold snap caused utility use to jump, the agency says.

OTTAWA — The Canadian economy grew by a surprise 0.1 per cent in November, driven by a boost in utility use because of an unexpected cold snap in central CanadaStatistics Canada data showed on Friday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast no change after an unexpected 0.1 per cent decline in October. Goods-producing industries and the services sectors both posted a 0.1 per cent gain. Increases were reported in 15 of the 20 industrial sectors tracked by StatCan.

The Canadian dollar slightly pared its decline, touching 1.3227 to the U.S. dollar, or 75.60 U.S. cents, after the GDP gain.

“The above-consensus reading was surprising given the temporary factors which were expected to restrain growth — pipeline outage, rail strike, weather — and should limit the downside risk to the Bank of Canada’s Q4 forecast,” said Royce Mendes, a senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets in a note.

Last week, the Bank of Canada, which has sat on the sidelines for more than a year even as several of its counterparts have eased, held its overnight interest rate steady but opened the door to a possible future cut should a slowdown in domestic growth persist.

The central bank also cut its fourth quarter annualized growth forecast to 0.3 per cent from 1.3 per cent in October and said it would be closely monitoring developments in consumer spending, the housing market and business investment.

Unseasonably cold weather in central Canada caused utilities to jump 2.1 per cent, the agency said, the largest gain in more than a year.

November’s GDP gain came despite notable declines in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, as well as the transportation and warehouse sectors, in part because of an eight-day rail strike at Canadian National Railway, Canada’s largest railway.

Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, StatCan said, fell 1.4 per cent. Meanwhile, temporary mine closures in Saskatchewan caused potash mining to decline 18.2 per cent due to weak international demand.

StatCan said retail trade increased by 0.5 per cent, recouping part of a 1.1 per cent decline seen in October. Motor vehicle and parts dealers were up 2.4 per cent, while Black Friday sales saw mixed results.

Electronic and appliance stores posted a 1.5 per cent gain while clothing and clothing accessory stores saw a decline of 1.5 per cent. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were down 1.9 per cent.

In a separate release, the agency reported on Friday Canadian producer prices rose by 0.1 per cent in December on higher prices for non-ferrous metal product.


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