March 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.


  • Calgary-based Crescent Point Energy Corp. announced that its total development capital expenditures in 2017, excluding land acquisitions, were $1.63 billion. The company had previously announced that its 2018 capital expenditures are expected to be $1.8 billion.
  • Calgary-based Seven Generations Energy Ltd. announced that its 2017 capital investments, excluding acquisitions and equity investments, were $1.651 billion. The company had previously announced that its 2018 capital investment budget is expected to be between $1.675 billion and $1.775 billion.
  • Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. announced that Syncrude plans to begin an eight-week turnaround on March 15th, which was originally scheduled to begin in April. The company said Syncrude production for the first quarter is expected to be reduced to approximately 140,000 barrels of oil per day, net to Suncor.  Suncor also said that Syncrude's forecasted production for the full year remains within the annual guidance range.


  • Montreal-based Reitmans (Canada) Limited announced it had initiated a plan to close all of its 17 HYBA store locations by the end of its current fiscal year, February 2, 2019. The company said it will continue to offer HYBA-branded products across Canada through the company's 270 Reitmans store locations, as well as e-commerce through the Reitmans website.
  • New Jersey-based Toys "R" Us, Inc. announced it plans to liquidate the inventory in all 735 of its U.S. stores, including stores in Puerto Rico. The company said it is pursuing a reorganization and a sale process to find buyers that will continue to run its Canadian business and operations in Asia and Central Europe, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Toys "R" Us said that in the interim stores in these international markets are open and serving customers.

Other news

  • The Bank of Canada maintained the target for the overnight rate at 1.25%. The last change in the target for the overnight rate was a 25 basis-point increase announced in January 2018.
  • The Government of Yukon tabled Budget 2018-19 on March 1st, which, as part of its capital plan, includes investments in the highway system, social and affordable housing, school facilities, health care, and IT infrastructure. The Government forecasts a $4.5 million deficit in 2018-19 and real GDP growth of 4.4% in 2018.
  • The Government of Manitoba tabled Budget 2018 on March 12th, which includes new investments in health care, education and strategic initiatives related to agriculture. The budget also includes an increase in the small business income tax threshold from $450,000 to $500,000, and a $2,020 increase in the personal income tax threshold over the next two years. The Government forecasts a $521 million deficit in 2018-19 and real GDP growth of 2.0% in 2018.
  • The Government of Nova Scotia tabled Budget 2018-19 on March 20th, which includes additional funding for health care, education and community initiatives. The Government forecasts a $29.4 million surplus in 2018-19 and real GDP growth of 1.0% in 2018.
  • The Government of Alberta tabled Budget 2018 on March 22nd, which includes new initiatives related to energy diversification and improving public services. The budget includes a capital plan of $30 billion over five years for health infrastructure, schools, climate change and environmental sustainability, municipalities, roads and bridges, and capital maintenance. The Government forecasts an $8.8 billion deficit for 2018-19 and real GDP growth of 2.7% in 2018.
  • The Government of Quebec tabled its 2018 Economic Plan on March 27th, which includes new investments in health, education, and public transportation. The budget also includes gradual reductions in tax rates for small and medium-sized businesses in the service and construction sectors. The Government forecasts a balanced budget in 2018-19 and real GDP growth of 2.1% in 2018.
  • The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador tabled Budget 2018 on March 27th, which includes new investments in education, skills and childhood development, along with investments in infrastructure. The budget also includes a minimum 5% reduction in the tax on automobile insurance over four years, as well as an increase in the exemption threshold for the provincial payroll tax. The Government forecasts a deficit of $683 million in 2018-19 and an economic contraction of 0.8% in 2018.
  • The Government of Ontario tabled Budget 2018 on March 28th, which includes new investments in health care, child care and education. The budget also proposes changes to personal income tax (PIT) brackets and rates along with the elimination of the PIT surtax. The Government forecasts a $6.7 billion deficit in 2018-19 and economic growth of 2.2% in 2018.
  • The seventh round of negotiations between Canada, the United States and Mexico pursuant to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement took place in Mexico City from February 25 – March 5.
  • Canada, along with 10 other member countries including Japan and Mexico, signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on March 8th.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty (AD) investigation of imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada. The DOC said that it has preliminarily determined that exporters from Canada have sold uncoated groundwood paper in the United States between 0.00% and 22.16% less than fair value, and that it will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada based on these preliminary rates.

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 1.50% to 1.75%. The last change in the target range was a 25 basis point increase announced in December 2017.
  • 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 confirmed that net asset purchases will continue at a monthly pace of €30 billion until the end of September 2018.
  • The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.50%, 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 November 2017.
  • 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.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand left the Official Cash Rate, its main policy rate, unchanged at 1.75%. The last change in the Official Cash Rate was a 25 basis point reduction in November 2016.
  • On March 8th, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to impose a 10% ad valorem tariff on aluminum articles and a 25% ad valorem tariff on steel articles imported from all countries except Canada and Mexico.
  • On March 22nd, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum that directed that the U.S. Trade Representative should take all appropriate action under section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 to address the acts, policies and practices of China that are unreasonable or discriminatory and that burden or restrict U.S. commerce. The memorandum also directed that the Trade Representative shall publish a proposed list of products and any intended tariff increases within 15 days. The Chinese government subsequently raised tariffs by up to 25% percent on 128 imported U.S. products.
  • Texas-based iHeartMedia, Inc. announced that it and certain of its subsidiaries, including iHeartCommunications, Inc., have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
  • Illinois-based Claire's Stores, Inc. announced that it is pursuing a financial restructuring in order to eliminate a substantial portion of debt from the company's balance sheet, pursuant to a chapter 11 reorganization process. Claire's said its international subsidiaries are not part of the company's U.S. chapter 11 filings.
  • Texas-based FedEx Office and Walmart, Inc. of Arkansas announced an agreement to place 500 new FedEx Office locations within select Walmart stores in United States locations in the next 24 months.
  • California-based Salesforce Inc. and MuleSoft Inc. also of California, announced they had entered into a definitive agreement under which Salesforce will acquire MuleSoft for an enterprise value of approximately USD $6.5 billion. The companies said the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of Salesforce's fiscal year 2019, subject to shareholder approval and customary closing conditions.
  • UK-based GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) announced it had reached an agreement with Novartis International AG of Switzerland for the buyout of Novartis' 36.5% stake in their Consumer Healthcare Joint Venture for USD $13 billion. The company said that completion of the buyout is expected to occur during the summer of 2018, subject to approval by GSK shareholders.

Financial market news

  • Crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) closed at USD $64.94 on March 29th, up from $61.64 at the end of February. The Canadian dollar closed at 77.56 cents U.S. on March 29th, down from 78.07 cents U.S. on February 28th. The S&P/TSX closed at 15,367.30 on March 29th, down from a closing value of 15,442.70 at the end of February.
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