Economy grew 0.2 per cent in November, fifth straight monthly increase: StatsCan

OTTAWA – The economy grew by 0.2 per cent month over month in November, boosted by the resource sector and marking the fifth straight monthly increase, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The increase matched the expectations of economists and was just below the 0.3 per cent gain in October.

“While looking somewhat deep into the rear-view mirror, the decent month continues to point to a sturdy end to 2013 for the Canadian economy,” BMO chief economist Doug Porter wrote in a note.

“The three-month trend in growth is now running at a nifty 3.8 per cent annualized clip and output is up 2.6 per cent from a year ago.”

Statistics Canada said the output of goods-producing industries rose by 0.4 per cent in November, led by an increase in oil and gas extraction, which rose 2.6 per cent.

Mining and quarrying was up 1.3 per cent, while utilities gained 2.1 per cent as cold weather boosted demand for electricity and natural gas.

Manufacturing was down 0.5 per cent. The output of service industries rose 0.2 per cent as retail trade gained 0.8 per cent. Wholesale trade lost 0.6 per cent.

TD Bank economist Leslie Preston said that with two out of three months now in hand for the fourth quarter, the economy looks to have built on the momentum of the third quarter.

“However, the quarter likely ended on a sour note in December as severe winter weather led to power outages and otherwise crimped activity in many parts of the country,” Preston wrote in a report.

“That leaves the economy with very weak momentum heading into the first quarter of 2014, which could now see a more modest growth tally.”

Last week, the Bank of Canada said in its monetary policy report that economic growth in the second half of 2013 was better than expected and should pick up from an estimated 1.8 per cent in 2013 to 2.5 per cent both this year and next.

The central bank expects global growth — led by stronger momentum in the U.S. — to rise from 2.9 per cent in 2013, to 3.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent in the following years.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the modest growth was “an encouraging sign that Canada’s economy remains on the right track.”

“With continued uncertainty in the global economy, it’s essential that we remain focused on creating jobs and growth here in Canada,” Flaherty said Friday.

The federal budget is expected Feb. 11.

The read on the economy came as Statistics Canada also revised December’s 45,900 job loss to 44,000 as part of its annual tweak of seasonal adjustment factors.

The year-end unemployment rate was left unchanged at 7.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board of Canada said its new composite leading index suggested the economy will grow in the first half of this year, but only modestly.

The index, which looks at the performance of 10 components that track the short-term course of the economy, was up 0.3 per cent in December, matching gains in October and November.