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Dec 21, 2018

Canada's GDP grows at fastest pace in 5 months, boosted by factories

Canadian economic growth better than expected in October

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Canadian gross domestic product grew at the fastest pace in five months on a lift from manufacturing, giving the economy fresh momentum to open the fourth quarter.

Output grew 0.3 per cent in October, Statistics Canada said Friday from Ottawa, faster than the median forecast in a Bloomberg economist survey of 0.2 per cent.

Factory production expanded 0.7 per cent to make up most of the losses over the prior two months, while wholesaling climbed 1 per cent. The highest volume of trading since March 2016 on Canada’s benchmark stock exchange in Toronto also boosted the finance and insurance industry by 0.9 per cent.

The world’s 10th largest economy is running close to full speed and forecasters are predicting growth will remain close to a 2 per cent annualized pace between October and December. Unemployment is at record lows and some companies have reported they are struggling to fill new orders with their existing capacity.

The GDP report is the last one Bank of Canada policy makers will see before they set interest rates and update their quarterly forecasts on Jan. 9. Governor Stephen Poloz has said how soon he adds to his five rate increases since mid-2017 will depend on fresh data, and that he needs to assess the drag from a plunge in Alberta oil prices.

There wasn’t much direct evidence of an energy slump in the GDP figures. Oil and gas extraction climbed 3.6 per cent as producers returned sites to service after maintenance shutdowns.

The economy’s main weak point was the fifth straight decline in construction, which fell 0.1 per cent in October.

The GDP report didn't include figures on the sale of newly legal marijuana, with Statistics Canada planning to add them in March. A separate report released by the agency Friday on retailing said pot sales totaled $43 million in the two weeks after legalization on Oct. 17.

That retail report showed overall sales climbed 0.3 per cent in October, driven by auto dealers and gas stations. That was slower than the median economist forecast for a 0.5 per cent gain.

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