Statistics Canada reports real GDP up 0.6 per cent in January as Quebec strikes end


Canada’s real gross domestic product grew 0.6 per cent in January, helped by the end of public sector strikes in Quebec in November and December, Statistics Canada said Thursday.

The agency added that it expected the growth continued in February with a preliminary estimate pointing to a gain of 0.4 per cent for the month, helped by strength in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, and finance and insurance sectors.

CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham said the Canadian economy appears to have started 2024 in the fast lane.

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“Even though January’s growth was flattered by a rebound in the public sector following strike activity in Quebec, solid momentum appears to have extended to February as well,” he wrote in a note to clients.

Grantham added that with growth for the first quarter as a whole tracking well above the Bank of Canada’s previous expectation, there is no urgency for the central bank to cut interest rates at its April meeting.

“However, a June move is still possible if labour market conditions continue to loosen and core inflation maintains its downward momentum,” he said.

The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is set at five per cent. The central bank is expecting to be able to begin cutting interest rates sometime later this year, but according to its most recent summary of deliberations, its officials are split on timing.

Year-over-year inflation came in at 2.8 per cent in February, but the central bank remains concerned that inflation risks trending higher than expected, particularly as shelter costs continue to climb.

Statistics Canada said Thursday that the growth in the economy in January came as the public sector, which includes educational services, health care and social assistance and public administration, rose 1.9 per cent after two consecutive monthly declines.

The educational services sector gained 6.0 per cent after falling in November and December due to the strikes in Quebec, while the health care and social assistance sector, which was also impacted by the strikes, rose 0.8 per cent.

Overall, 18 of 20 sectors rose in January with services-producing industries up 0.7 per cent while goods-producing industries added 0.2 per cent.

The manufacturing sector increased 0.9 per cent in January, while the utilities sector gained 3.2 per cent as temperatures in parts of the country fell.

The mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction sector fell 1.9 per cent as oil and gas extraction dropped 4.4 per cent.

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