Canadian economy posts weakest back-to-back quarters of growth since 2015

However, overall growth was boosted by highest quarterly level of household spending in two years

Statistics Canada’s offices at Tunny’s Pasture in Ottawa are shown on Friday, March 8, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

Canada’s economy expanded at an annualized pace of just 0.4 per cent in the first three months of the year, giving the country its weakest back-to-back quarters of growth since 2015.

The real gross domestic product reading for the first quarter followed a revised growth number of just 0.3 per cent in the previous quarter, Statistics Canada said Friday in a new report.

It was the slowest two-quarter stretch of growth since an oil-price plunge caused the economy to shrink over the first half of 2015.

Economists had expected growth at an annualized rate of 0.7 per cent for the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

The Statistics Canada report said downward pressure on first-quarter growth was driven by weakness in net trade as imports increased 1.9 per cent and export volumes dropped one per cent for their first quarterly decrease since 2017.

Canada also saw a substantial contraction of 9.5 per cent in its exports of farm and fishing products as well as a 2.8 per cent drop in crude-oil shipments.

On the positive side, the agency said overall economic growth was boosted by the highest quarterly level of household spending in two years, following broad-based increases that included strength in auto purchases and audio-visual equipment.

The economy also saw an 8.7 per cent increase in business investments on equipment and machinery — the biggest jolt in 23 years. The surge was fuelled in part by significant investments in aircraft and other transportation equipment, the report said.

Looking ahead, the report’s month-to-month reading for March — the final month of the first quarter — suggested the second quarter could be off to a stronger start. March posted a 0.5 per cent increase compared to a 0.2 per cent contraction in February.

The first-quarter reading Friday was slightly higher than the Bank of Canada’s prediction of 0.3 per cent.

READ MORE: Trudeau touts economic record at Liberal fundraiser in Vancouver

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

It’s showtime: Victoria theatre reopens with new COVID-19 protocols

Capitol 6 theatre and SilverCity Victoria have reopened with limited seating

Victoria Police searching for missing teen

Arianna Mckenzie, 17, last seen July 2

Rapid bus system could increase frequency, reliability in Greater Victoria

BC Transit studies methods for improving major routes in Capital Region

Victoria man collects 28 bags of trash along two-kilometre stretch of highway

20-year-old spent 12 hours collecting garbage near Thetis Lake

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read