Review of Economic Statistics — May 4, 2018

Release date: May 4, 2018

Review of Economic Statistics — May 4, 2018 - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Review of Economic Statistics — May 4, 2018")

(Background music plays while title card with the text "Review of Economic Statistics — May 4, 2018" appears on screen.)

Richard Evans: Welcome to the Review of Economic Statistics. I'm Richard Evans.

Guy Gallatly: And I'm Guy Gellatly.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Richard Evans, Director General, Industry Statistics. Guy Gallatly, Principal Researcher.")

Richard: Guy, the monthly GDP for February 2018 is out. We have the middle month of the quarter, and therefore a good picture—a better picture—of what quarterly growth is eventually going to look like. We also have some new numbers to fill out the quarter. March international trade is out. So, let's start with the monthly GDP. A bit of a stronger month in February, wasn't it?

Guy: Well, the economy expanded by 0.4% in February on broad-based gains across industries, and that follows that slight decline that we had, 0.1%, at the start of January. So, much of the growth that we saw in February was really coming on the good side of the economy. So, non-conventional oil extraction ramped up in February, and that follows some of those production disruptions that we had at the start of the year. Conventional oil and gas extraction was also stronger in February, as was manufacturing. And manufacturing was being supported by higher auto production.

(Text on screen below presenters: "The economy expanded 0.4% in February 2018 lead by gains in resource industries, manufacturing and construction.")

Richard: Mmhm. So, really, a good driven growth in that second month of the quarter. What about services?

Guy: Well, services overall edged up 0.1%, and you had some pretty strong growth numbers coming from finance, from professional services, and from retail trade. And retail trade was up for the first time— we had three consecutive declines leading up to the February release. Overall, you know, one factor that really kind of mitigated some of the strength that we saw on the services side was the lower number we had for the real estate sector.

Richard: Real estate, yes.

Guy: Activities of agents and brokers: down pretty notably in the February numbers, as they were in the January numbers. So you look at levels over that two-month period, they're about 20% lower in February than they were at year end 2017.

Richard: Excellent. Let's move on to the international trade for March. And March is the third month of the quarter, so we have the image of the full quarter. So, what is that looking like, the month and the quarter?

Guy: Well, we had strong export and import numbers in March, and a lot of that was really coming on higher volumes. So, exports were up 3.7%, broad-based gains. Imports were up 6% in March. And again, lots of increases across the board, but a lot of that import growth was really coming from imports of autos, imports of consumer products. So, what that does when you put those two flows together, obviously, imports and exports, a widening of the merchandise trade balance in March to 4.1 billion. So, you mentioned the quarter. So, for the quarter as a whole, it is certainly the case that import growth outpaced export growth. That's true whether you look at it in terms of current dollars or strictly in terms of volumes.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Both merchandise exports and imports advanced in March 2018, as the trade deficit widened.")

Richard: Yeah. Now, if we cast a glance back, beyond the first quarter, back to 2017, we first published GDP growth for 2017 in early March, two months ago. But what we didn't know then was how that growth broke down by province and territory, until now.

Guy: Well, and you do get a sense for that stronger economic momentum in 2017 and how broad-based it was across the country. So again, one of the really notable findings here—GDP increased, it rose in all provinces, really for the first time since 2011. And depending on the province, what you saw was either a rebound in economic activity in 2017 or a strengthening in growth, an acceleration in the pace of growth. So, overall, again a fairly strong—a much stronger—economic performance east to west across the country.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Real GDP increased in all provinces, in 2017, for the first times since 2011.")

Richard: Excellent. And in closing, we just want to note that the Canada and the World Statistics Hub has been updated with data from several new countries. Users will find in there the trade numbers we've just been talking about, and so much more data on investment, employment and many other statistics that paint a much more complete picture of what our relationship is with our key trading partners. Do have a look. You'll find it on our website.

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