PLANT

Economic growth inches forward 0.3%: StatsCan

Retail and wholesale trade, energy extraction and manufacturing boost economic activity in November.


OTTAWA — Canadian economic growth crept upwards in November by 0.3% — the first sign of life in the monthly data since August, when there was a razor-thin increase of 0.1%.

Statistics Canada’s latest reading for real gross domestic product followed zero growth in October and a contraction of 0.5% in September.

The federal agency said Jan. 29 that November’s GDP growth was mostly due to increased activity in retail and wholesale trade, energy extraction and manufacturing.

Wholesale trade bounced back to expand 1.3% in November after shrinking for four straight months, the report said.

Growth in retail trade increased 1.2% following an October contraction of 0.2%, while manufacturing saw an increase of 0.4 per cent after falling for two consecutive months, Statistics Canada said.

Overall natural resources extraction rose 0.6% in November, the report said. Oil and gas extraction increased 2.1% to help offset the weight of the mining and quarrying component, which declined 2.3%.

Downward pressure on GDP – a broad measure of the economy – also came from the finance and insurance sector, which contracted 0.3% for its fourth straight monthly decline.

The GDP reading was released as Canada limps through the net negative effects of a commodity price shock that began in late 2014 and has lingered since.

The figure tees up a potentially weak GDP number for the fourth quarter amid downgraded expectations for the final three months of 2015.

The Bank of Canada recently lowered its GDP forecast for the fourth quarter to 0.3%, down from 0.7%. Earlier this month, the central bank also decreased its GDP prediction for the first quarter of 2016 to 0.8% and for the second quarter to 1.4%.

Canada’s economy fell into the technical definition of a recession in the first half of 2015 when GDP fell for two straight quarters. It decreased at an annual pace of 0.7% over the first three months of 2015 and again by 0.3% in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, however, GDP rebounded by generating 2.3% growth.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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