Canada's Economy Remains Soft as Manufacturing Contracts
The Canadian economy experienced a period of stagnation in July, with a decline in manufacturing offset by increased natural-gas extraction and a rebound in mining following recent forest fires...
Troy D. Hanson
September 29, 2023
The Canadian economy experienced a period of stagnation in July, with a decline in manufacturing offset by increased natural-gas extraction and a rebound in mining following recent forest fires. Although August showed slight growth, the Canadian central bank seems unperturbed, maintaining its benchmark interest rate.
According to Statistics Canada, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remained virtually unchanged at 2.082 trillion Canadian dollars ($1.544 trillion) compared to the previous month. However, it did show a 1.1% increase compared to the previous year.
While industry-level activity in July aligned with the data agency's flash estimate, it fell below economists' expectations of 0.1% growth. This follows a 0.2% decline in GDP in June.
Early data points to a slight increase of 0.1% in GDP for August. However, these estimates are subject to change once the official data is released at the end of next month. Increases in wholesale trade and the finance and insurance sectors were partially offset by declines in retail trade and the oil and gas extraction sectors.
Overall Economic Outlook
The data continues to indicate a sluggish economy in the third quarter, with rising borrowing costs and various challenges affecting growth. Both the strike by port workers on Canada's west coast and the recent wildfires have disrupted several industries. Following a sharp slowdown in the second quarter, where the economy remained virtually flat, it is evident that Canada is facing headwinds after the initial 0.6% growth in the first three months.
In conclusion, the Canadian economy faces challenges such as manufacturing contraction, rising borrowing costs, and disruptions caused by strikes and wildfires. Despite slight growth in August, the sluggish nature of the economy persists. The official data release next month will provide further insights into Canada's economic performance.
The Bank of Canada's Projections and Impact on the Economy
The Bank of Canada has recently decided to keep its policy rate unchanged at a 22-year high after two consecutive quarter-point increases in June and July. The central bank expects the growth rate of the gross domestic product (GDP) to slow down due to the lagged effect of its aggressive interest rate hikes. This is expected to have an impact on consumer spending and business investments. However, the bank has also indicated that it is ready to raise rates further if core inflation remains persistent.
Contractions and Growth in Industries
According to Statistics Canada's GDP report, the output from goods-producing industries experienced a contraction in July. On the other hand, the services industries as a whole saw a slight growth.
The manufacturing sector witnessed a decline for the second consecutive month, with the largest decrease since April 2021. This was mainly due to a decrease in inventory build-up. Non-durable manufacturing also weakened for the third month in a row, partially disrupted by a port strike in British Columbia that affected chemical manufacturing. Additionally, durable manufacturing declined for the fourth time in five months.
Air transportation also contracted for the second month in a row in July. This was a result of bad weather in the eastern United States during the Canada Day long weekend, leading to delays and flight cancellations on both sides of the border.
Industries Bouncing Back Amidst Challenges
Despite these setbacks, some industries affected by forest fires in June managed to bounce back in July. Mining, in particular, more than offset the previous month's decline. Accommodation and food services also experienced growth during this period.
Oil and gas extraction increased for the sixth time in the last seven months. This was driven partly by a ramp-up of natural gas output following a contraction caused by recent wildfires. Furthermore, finance and insurance buying activity was higher in July, while real estate and rental and leasing continued the growth trend seen since November of the previous year.
In conclusion, while the Bank of Canada anticipates a slowdown in GDP growth, various industries have shown resilience and are recovering from recent challenges. It remains to be seen how these factors will further shape the Canadian economy in the coming months.