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Canada’s key indicators pointing in right direction

The latest jobs report caps a string of indicators that suggest Canada's economy may have reached a "turning point" and is headed for better times.

It's not that Friday's revised reading of the jobs market was anything great, but it was better than expected and markedly better than the incorrect report pulled by Statistics Canada earlier in the week.

The new survey showed some 42,000 jobs created in July, though that was driven by a surge in part-time positions amid losses in full-time work. The unemployment rate, dipping to 7 per cent, was down from June.

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"We do think things are getting better," said assistant chief economist Dawn Desjardins of Royal Bank of Canada, who, with her RBC colleague Paul Ferley, released a report tracking the latest indicators.

"It's moving in the right direction," Ms. Desjardins added, projecting economic growth of 2.7 per cent or 2.8 per cent in the second half of the year.

The last reports on gross domestic product and trade may well have marked the turning point, with "the things we've been waiting for" materializing, she said in an interview.

Here's their summary of other indicators:

  • Statscan’s report on economic growth, released late last month, showed the economy expanding by a respectable 0.4 per cent in May, better than April’s 0.1 per cent. “The bounce in growth mainly reflected growth in goods-producing industries rising by 0.5 per cent, which more than offset the 0.4-per-cent decline in April. Service-producing industries grew by a solid 0.4 per cent, which matched a similar-sized increase in April.”
  • The trade showing in June, released earlier this month, marked an “unexpectedly large” surplus of $1.9-billion, the result of exports climbing by 1.1 per cent and imports slipping by 1.8 per cent. Not only that, but May’s reading was revised to show a surplus from what was initially believed to be a small deficit.
  • The latest reading of retail sales also showed further gains, though May’s 0.7 per cent lagged the 1.3 per cent of April.
  • The construction industry is also giving up no ground, with housing starts rising 0.7 per cent in July to an annual pace of 200,100.

Ms. Desjardins is not alone in her optimism.

"In Canada, we've also seen a hint, again not yet definitive, of a turn in one of this country's missing-in-action sources of growth," said chief economist Avery Shenfeld of CIBC World Markets.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More

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