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 that oil production limits in May will increase by 25,000 barrels per day and 25,000 more in June – a 50,000 increase in total to 3.71 million barrels per day allowed, effective June 1st. The Government said this represents a total increase of 150,000 barrels per day since the start of the production limit policy on January 1st, 2019.
- Calgary-based Imperial Oil Ltd. announced it had slowed the pace of development of its Aspen in situ oil sands project given market uncertainty stemming from Alberta government intervention and other industry competiveness challenges. The company said the slowdown in project execution will likely result in a delay of at least one year.
- Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced that the State of Minnesota had provided Enbridge with the permitting timeline for its agencies' remaining environmental permits for the Line 3 Replacement Project. The company said it is developing a revised construction schedule for the Line 3 Replacement Project, but now expects an in-service date during the second half of 2020.
- On March 28th, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive instructing state departments and agencies to halt any actions in furtherance of the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority law, Public Act 359 of 2018. Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced on March 28th that it would seek clarification from the Administration on a path forward.
- On March 29th, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a Presidential permit granting permission to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada at Phillips County, Montana, for the import of oil from Canada to the United States. President Trump said that this permit supercedes the Presidential permit issued to the permitee, dated March 23, 2017.
- Calgary-based STEP Energy Services Ltd., announced that it plans to reduce overhead positions by 13% early in 2019, and that it has also reduced field staffing by 12% since the end of the third quarter of 2018.
- Vancouver-based Imperial Metals Corporation announced it had entered into an agreement to sell a 70% interest in its Red Chris copper and gold asset in British Columbia to Newcrest Mining Limited of Australia for USD $806.5 million. The company said the sale is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019, subject to customary conditions precedent including all regulatory approvals and the assignment or transfer of material permits and contracts.
Finance and insurance
- Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and Oaktree Capital Group, LLC of California announced an agreement whereby Brookfield will acquire approximately 62% of the Oaktree business for USD $4.7 billion. Brookfield said the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019, subject to Oaktree shareholder and regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
- UK-based Inmarsat Plc announced that the boards of Inmarsat and Triton Bidco, a joint venture company owned in part by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, had reached an agreement on the terms of a recommended cash offer by Triton Bidco to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Inmarsat for approximately USD $3.4 billion. Inmarsat said the acquisition is expected to become effective during the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to clearances from competition authorities and other formal regulatory approvals. CPPIB said that its financial commitment will be approximately USD $900 million.
- On March 29th, Unifor said that UK-based Fiat Chrysler Automobile's (FCA) intention to eliminate the third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant will impact about 1,500 workers and additional workers in the parts supply chain. Unifor said FCA has announced plans to eliminate the shift effective September 30, 2019.
- 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 tabled Budget 2019 on March 19th, which included: the implementation of a shared-equity mortgage program for first-time home buyers along with an increase in their RRSP withdrawal limit; the creation of a new Canada Training Benefit; lowered interest rates on Canada Student Loans and a six-month interest free period following graduation; and the creation of a Canadian Drug Agency as part of the development of a national pharmacare plan. The Government forecasts a $19.8 billion deficit for 2019-2020 and real GDP growth of 1.8% in 2019.
- The Government of Yukon tabled Budget 2019-20 on March 7th, which included investments in affordable housing, education, health care, and community infrastructure. The Government forecasts a $5.9 million deficit in 2019-2020 and real GDP growth of 3.3% in 2019.
- The Government of New Brunswick tabled Budget 2019-20 on March 19th, which included investments in health care, as well as increased wages for early childhood educators and home support workers. The Government forecasts a $23.1 million surplus in 2019-2020 and real GDP growth of 0.6% in 2019.
- The Government of Saskatchewan tabled Budget 2019-20 on March 20th, which included: increased spending on health, education and infrastructure; investments in social services and highway safety; and the elimination of currently allowable deductions from the Potash Production Tax. The Government forecasts a $34 million surplus in 2019-2020 and real GDP growth of 1.2% in 2019.
- The Government of Quebec tabled Budget 2019-20 on March 21st, which included: increased spending on health and education; measures to promote labour market participation and business investment; and additional funding to fight climate change. The Government forecasts a $2.5 billion surplus for 2019-20 and real GDP growth of 1.8% in 2019.
- The Government of Nova Scotia tabled Budget 2019-20 on March 26th, which included investments in health care and education, measures to support economic growth, and spending on communities. The Government forecasts a $33.6 million surplus in 2019-2020 and real GDP growth of 0.8% in 2019.
- The Government of British Columbia announced it had introduced legislation that will amend the Income Tax Act to implement a natural gas tax credit for LNG development in British Columbia; repeal the liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act; and repeal the Liquefied Natural Gas Project Amendments Act. The Government said that once complete, these steps will deliver the fiscal setting needed for LNG Canada's proposed $40 billion project in northern British Columbia.
- The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) announced on March 21st that canola seed exporters report that Chinese importers are unwilling to purchase Canadian canola seed at this time. The CCC said that while there was some initial optimism that Chinese concerns with canola trade could be resolved quickly, technical discussions to date have not indicated an immediate resolution is possible.
- On March 13th, Boeing announced that after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, it had determined to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft. Transport Canada announced on March 13th that it was restricting commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft from arriving, departing, or overflying Canadian airspace until further notice. Both Montreal-based Air Canada and Calgary-based WestJet announced that they are complying with Transport Canada's decision.
- Halifax-based Emera Inc. and ENMAX Corporation of Calgary announced they had entered into a definitive agreement in which Emera has agreed to sell to ENMAX its interest in Emera Maine, its regulated electric transmission and distribution company in Maine, for an aggregate enterprise value, including assumed debt, of approximately $1.8 billion. The companies said the transaction is expected to close late in 2019, subject to certain conditions and regulatory approvals.
United States and other international news
- The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) maintained the target range for the federal funds interest rate at 2.25% to 2.50%. The last change in the target range was a 25 basis point increase announced in December 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 announced that a new series of quarterly targeted longer-term refinancing operations will be launched, starting in September 2019 and ending in March 2021, each with a maturity of two years.
- 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.
- The Executive Board of Norway's Norges Bank decided to raise its key policy rate by 25 basis points to 1.0%. The last change in the rate was a 25 basis point increase in September 2018.
- 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.
- UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced on March 20th that she had written to the President of the European Council to request an extension of Article 50 up to June 30th, 2019. On March 22nd, the European Council announced it had decided, in agreement with the United Kingdom and in the event that the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons by March 29th, to extend the period provided for by Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union until April 12th, 2019.
- Florida-based Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. and Worldpay, Inc. of Ohio announced they had entered into a definitive merger agreement in a transaction that values Worldpay at an enterprise value of approximately USD $43 billion. The companies said the transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019, subject to receipt of required regulatory and shareholder approvals and other customary closing conditions.
- NVIDIA Corporation and Mellanox Technologies Ltd, both of California, announced that the companies had reached a definitive agreement under which NVIDIA will acquire Mellanox for a total enterprise value of approximately USD $6.9 billion. The companies said the transaction is expected to close by the end of 2019, subject to Mellanox shareholder and regulatory approvals as well as other customary closing conditions.
- California-based Uber Technologies Inc. and Careem Networks FZ of Dubai announced they had reached an agreement for Uber to acquire Careem for USD $3.1 billion. The companies said the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to applicable regulatory approvals.
- Michigan-based Ford Motor Company announced it is expanding its production capacity for the company's next-generation battery electric vehicles at its Flat Rock Assembly plant in southeast Michigan. The company said it is targeting to invest more than USD $850 million in the assembly plant through 2023.
- Netherlands-based Airbus SE and China Aviation Supplies Holding Company announced they had signed a General Terms Agreement covering the purchase by Chinese airlines of a total of 300 Airbus aircraft.
Financial market news
- West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at USD $60.14 per barrel on March 29th, up from $57.22 at the end of February. Western Canadian Select crude oil traded between USD $45 and USD $50 per barrel throughout March. The Canadian dollar closed at 74.83 cents U.S. on March 29th, down from at 75.94 cents U.S. at the end of February. The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 16,102.09 on March 29th, up from a closing value of 15,999.01 at the end of February.