Canadian economy edges up in April, no thanks to lack of playoff hockey

OTTAWA – The Canadian economy edged up 0.1 per cent in April — no thanks to the country’s NHL teams, which were shut out of the playoffs this year.

Statistics Canada said Thursday that the arts, entertainment and recreation sector fell 3.9 per cent in April due to the lack of NHL playoff games played in Canada.

It was the first time since 1970 that no Canadian team made the National Hockey League playoffs.

Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said spectator sports are only a small part of the economy, but there would have been slightly more growth in April if it weren’t for all seven Canadian teams missing post-season play.

“If we had say two or three teams in the playoffs as per usual, the growth rate in April might have been two-tenths of a per cent rather than one-tenth of a per cent,” Porter said.

Overall, the one-month gain in Canada’s real gross domestic product matched the expectations of economists, according to Thomson Reuters.

The increase followed two months of contraction, but the result for May is expected to be negative due to wildfires in Alberta that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray and the shutdown of several oilsands operations.

“I think the rest of the country will churn out moderate growth. We might — outside of Alberta — see growth of about two-tenths of a per cent next month, but unfortunately the severe drop in oil production as a result of the wildfires are likely to lead to a decline in monthly GDP of about one per cent in May,” Porter said.

“The good news is that’s a one-off, one-time event that should be largely reversed in June and July.”

TD Bank updated its economic forecast for Canada on Thursday to reflect the outcome of the referendum in Britain to leave the European Union.

The bank shaved 0.1 of a percentage point from its forecast for growth this year and next to bring its prediction to 1.2 per cent for 2016 and 1.9 per cent in 2017.

“We have moved into yet another period of elevated economic and market uncertainty within a vulnerable global environment encompassed by a low growth, low interest rate environment, and Canada is no exception,” TD said in its report.

For April, Statistics Canada said gains in manufacturing, utilities and the public sector helped drive growth, offset by a drop in non-conventional oil extraction.

Service-producing industries rose 0.2 per cent in April, after being essentially unchanged in March, while goods-producing industries declined 0.1 per cent.

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction fell 1.4 per cent, the third consecutive month the sector has pulled back. The main reason was a 2.4 per cent drop in oil and gas extraction as output from non-conventional oil extraction fell 7.3 per cent due to maintenance shutdowns at upgrader facilities. Conventional oil and gas grew 1.7 per cent.