December 2018 edition

This module provides a concise summary of selected Canadian economic events, as well as international and financial market developments by calendar month. It is intended to provide contextual information only to support users of the economic data published by Statistics Canada. In identifying major events or developments, Statistics Canada is not suggesting that these have a material impact on the published economic data in a particular reference month.

All information presented here is obtained from publicly available news and information sources, and does not reflect any protected information provided to Statistics Canada by survey respondents.


  • The Government of Alberta announced it is mandating a short-term reduction in oil production starting in January 2019. The Government said that, under the action announced, production of raw crude oil and bitumen will be reduced by 325,000 barrels per day to address the storage glut, representing an 8.7% reduction. The Government also said that after excess storage is drawn down, the reduction will drop to an estimated average of 95,000 barrels a day until December 31, 2019 when the rules supporting this action end.
  • Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. announced a capital program of between $4.9 billion and $5.6 billion with the midpoint of the range representing a flat capital spend and a lower investment in Alberta year over year. The company said the capital program is 63% allocated to planned sustaining and maintenance activities.
  • Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Limited announced it is targeting a 2019 base capital program of $3.7 billion, approximately $1.0 billion less than its normalized capital program. The company said its 2019 base capital program includes approximately $3.1 billion of sustaining capital to keep production flat and approximately $600 million towards long-term growth projects.
  • Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc. announced capital spending in 2019 is expected to be in the range of $3.3 billion to $3.5 billion. Husky said the middle of the range is approximately $300 million less than the $3.7 billion forecast provided in May 2018 and includes reduced spending related to Alberta's curtailment program and lower global oil prices.
  • Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced $1.8 billion of new accretive growth capital investments, including USD $600 million for a 22.75% interest in the Gray Oak Liquids Pipeline being developed in Texas; $265 million to acquire existing liquids pipeline and terminal assets connected with Athabasca Oil Corporation's Leismer SAGD oil sands assets; and $800 million on four U.S.-based Gas Transmission expansion projects coming into service in the 2020-23 timeframe.
  • Enbridge also announced that affiliates of Enbridge had entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of Enbridge Gas New Brunswick Limited Partnership and Enbridge Gas New Brunswick Inc. to Liberty Utilities (Canada) LP of Oakville for a cash purchase price of $331 million. Enbridge said the transaction is expected to close in 2019, subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
  • Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corporation announced a capital program of $1.6 billion, including investments of $900 million in its Pipelines Division and $425 million in its Facilities Division.
  • Calgary-based Inter Pipeline Ltd. announced a $1.46 billion capital expenditure program for 2019. The company said its capital program will largely be focused on construction activities related to the $3.5 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex.
  • Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc. announced it plans to invest between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion in 2019, with the majority of the budget going to sustain base production at its Foster Creek and Christina Lake oil sands operations. The company also said it plans to complete construction of the Christina Lake phase G expansion.
  • Calgary-based AltaGas Ltd. announced a 2019 capital investment plan of approximately $1.3 billion, comprised primarily of projects in its Midstream and U.S. Utilities segments. The company also said it had reached an agreement for the sale of its remaining indirect equity interest of approximately 55% in the Northwest British Columbia Hydroelectric Facilities for approximately $1.39 billion to a joint venture company controlled by Axium Infrastructure Inc. and Manulife Financial Corporation.
  • Vancouver-based Teck Resources Limited announced Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation of Japan have agreed to acquire a 30% indirect interest in Compañia Minera Teck Quebrada Blanca S.A. for USD $1.2 billion. Teck said the transaction is expected to close before the end of April 2019, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
  • Calgary-based TransCanada Corporation announced it had entered into an agreement to sell its Coolidge Generating Station in Arizona to SWG Coolidge Holdings, LLC for approximately $623 million.
  • WCC LNG Project Ltd. announced on December 20th that ExxonMobil Canada Ltd. and Imperial Oil Resources Limited have withdrawn the WCC LNG Project from the B.C. Environmental Assesment process.


  • Montreal-based VIA Rail Canada announced that Siemens Canada of Oakville was awarded a $989 million contract to build 32 trainsets that will replace VIA Rail's fleet that operates in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor.
  • Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Corporation announced it will curtail half of the one operating potline at the Aluminerie de Bécancour Inc. (ABI) smelter in Québec, expected by December 21, 2018. The company said two of the facility's potlines were previously curtailed on January 11, 2018.

Other news

  • The Bank of Canada maintained the target for the overnight rate at 1.75%. The last change in the target for the overnight rate was a 25 basis-point increase announced in October 2018.
  • The Government of Canada announced more than $1.6 billion to support jobs and workers in Canada's oil and gas sector, including $1 billion in commercial financial support from Export Development Canada, a new $500 million Energy Diversification commercial financing envelope over three years to help oil and gas small business enterprises, a $50 million investment through Natural Resources Canada's Clean Growth Program in oil and gas projects, and $100 million through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's Strategic Innovation Fund in energy and economic diversification-related projects.
  • On December 19th, the Government of Canada announced the Order Amending the United States Surtax Remission Order, which will provide additional targeted surtax relief on imports of steel and aluminum products subject to countermeasures, as well as relief for specific companies facing particular circumstances, such as contractual obligations.
  • The Government of Canada announced that on December 30, 2018 the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) entered into force among the first six countries to ratify the agreement – Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore.
  • The Government of Québec released its Update on Québec's Economic and Financial Situation on December 3rd, which included measures to support families and seniors, encourage business investment, fight climate change, and accelerate debt repayment. The Government forecasts a budget surplus of $1.65 billion in 2018-19 and economic growth of 2.5% in 2018 and 1.8% in 2019.
  • The Government of New Brunswick released its Economic and Fiscal Update on December 6th. The Government forecasts a budget deficit of $131.4 million in 2018-19 and economic growth of 1.1% in 2018.
  • The Government of Manitoba released its Fiscal and Economic Update on December 19th. The Government forecasts a budget deficit of $518 million in 2018-19 and economic growth of 1.8% in both 2018 and in 2019.
  • The Government of Nova Scotia released its Forecast Update on December 19th. The Government forecasts a budget surplus of $27.3 million in 2018-19 and economic growth of 1.0% in 2018 and 0.6% in 2019.
  • Moody's Investors Service announced it had downgraded the issuer and long-term debt ratings of the Province of Ontario to Aa3 from Aa2.
  • Virginia-based Altria Group, Inc. announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire newly issued shares in Cronos Group Inc. of Toronto, representing a 45% equity stake, for an aggregate investment of approximately $2.4 billion. Altria said the transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2019, subject to Cronos Group shareholder and regulatory approval.
  • Washington State-based, Inc. announced plans for a new fulfillment centre in Leduc County, Alberta. The company said the fulfillment centre will create more than 600 full-time jobs by 2020. Amazon also announced an expansion of its Toronto Tech Hub and plans to create 600 new tech jobs in fields including software development, machine learning, cloud computing, digital advertising, and artificial intelligence.
  • Leamington, Ontario-based Aphria Inc. announced it had signed a Letter of Intent with Insumos Medicos S.A. of Paraguay to enter into an exclusive supply and distribution agreement to provide medical cannabis in Paraguay.

United States and other international news

  • The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the target range for the federal funds interest rate by 25 basis points to 2.25% to 2.50%. The last change in the target range was a 25 basis point increase announced in September 2018.
  • The European Central Bank (ECB) left the interest rate on the main refinancing operations of the Eurosystem unchanged at 0.00%, and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility unchanged at 0.25% and -0.40%, respectively. The ECB also said that the net purchases under the asset purchase programme will end in December 2018.
  • The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.75% and the stock of UK government bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £435 billion. The last change in the Bank Rate was a 25 basis-point increase in August 2018.
  • The Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced it will continue to apply a -0.1% interest rate to the Policy-Rate Balances in current accounts held by financial institutions at the BoJ. The BoJ also said it would continue to purchase Japanese government bonds (JGB) so that 10-year JGB yields will remain at around zero percent.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia maintained the cash rate at 1.50%. The last change in the cash rate was a 25 basis point reduction in August 2016.
  • Sweden's Riksbank raised its main interest rate, the repo rate, by 25 basis points to -0.25%. The last change in the repo rate was a 15 basis point cut in February 2016.
  • On December 22nd, the U.S. Government entered a partial shutdown affecting approximately 25% of the federal government, including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Treasury, State, and Homeland Security.
  • OPEC announced that the 5th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting decided to adjust overall production by 1.2 mb/d, effective as of January 2019 for an initial period of six months. OPEC said the contributions from OPEC and the voluntary contributions from non-OPEC participating countries will correspond to 0.8 mb/d and 0.4 mb/d respectively.
  • UK-based GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) announced it had reached an agreement with Pfizer Inc. of New York to combine their consumer health businesses into a Joint Venture, with combined sales of approximately USD $12.7 billion. GSK said the transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019, subject to approval by GSK shareholders and conditional upon the receipt of certain anti-trust authority approvals.
  • Virginia-based Altria Group, Inc. announced it had signed and closed a USD $12.8 billion investment in JUUL Labs, Inc. of California. Altria said the investment represents a 35% economic interest in JUUL.
  • California-based Google LLC announced it was investing over USD $1 billion in capital improvements to establish a new campus, Google Hudson Square, in New York City.
  • California-based Apple Inc. announced an investment of USD $1 billion to build a new campus in Austin, Texas. The company also announced plans to establish new sites in Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City and expand in cities across the United States including Pittsburgh, New York, and Boulder, Colorado over the next three years.

Financial market news

  • West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at USD $45.41 per barrel on December 31st, down from $50.93 at the end of November. Western Canadian Select crude oil traded over USD $30.00 per barrel throughout much of December, after trading under $20.00 for much of November. The Canadian dollar closed at 73.30 cents U.S. on December 31st, down from 75.18 cents U.S. at the end of November. The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 14,322.86 on December 31st, down from a closing value of 15,197.82 at the end of November. The composite index was down 12% from its closing value at the end of 2017.
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