Consumer confidence surged to its highest level in seven years in February amid rosier economic prospects, according to the latest readings from the Ottawa-based Conference Board of Canada’s index of consumer confidence.
The index rose by nine points in February, representing the largest monthly increase for the index since March 2015, the Conference Board report. As well, the gain pushed the index to 110.6, is its highest level in more than seven years.
“February’s gains suggest the recent string of solid job creation at the national level, as well as the improved economic outlook for 2017 have Canadians feeling more upbeat,” says Matthew Stewart, associate director, national forecasting, with the Conference Board, in a statement.
On a regional basis, the biggest gains in the index came in Quebec and Ontario, which enjoyed “solid economic growth” in 2016 and have recorded most of the full-time job gains in recent months, the Conference Board notes.
“Both provinces’ economies are also highly dependent on trade with the U.S., which is continuing to show solid economic momentum and strong job creation,” the Conference Boar says. “The first meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau may have also helped to allay some fears about the nature of Canada’s trading relationship with the U.S., given the more collegial tone struck by President Trump regarding Canada’s role in a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.”
Alberta also enjoyed an increase in consumer confidence in February, the Conference Boar states: “The recent stability in crude prices above US$50 a barrel seems to have translated into optimism in Alberta about the future course of the province’s economy. … Expectations regarding job prospects improved for the fourth consecutive month in February. Relative to January, more Albertans also indicated that their household finances had improved compared to six months ago.”
The index for Saskatchewan and Manitoba rose in February as well, with “Manitobans, in particular, feeling significantly more optimistic about their household finances and the prospect of making a major purchase.”
Elsewhere, British Columbia’s index rose modestly in February, whereas the index for the Atlantic provinces was the only one to decline in February. The decline in the Atlantic region “is not surprising given the weak economic outlook for much of the region,” the Conference Board says.
The survey was conducted between Feb. 6 and 16.
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