BMO Financial Group
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BMO Financial Group

May 08, 2013 08:00 ET

BMO Blue Book: Cautious Optimism Among Canadian Businesses With Economy Poised to Gain Momentum into 2014

- GDP growth of 1.6 per cent expected in 2013, 2.3 per cent in 2014

- Low rate environment provides opportunities to invest as economic strength south of the border stands to benefit Canadian businesses

- Regional data shows strength in Western Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 8, 2013) - As the Canadian economy continues to grow at a modest pace, the success of companies that have invested in their operations should act as an example of what is possible, according to the new edition of the BMO Blue Book.

The BMO Blue Book is published by BMO Capital Markets Economics and BMO Commercial Banking. Much like the U.S. Federal Reserve's Beige Book, it combines the expertise of BMO's economists with anecdotal information on current business conditions from BMO's commercial bankers. The BMO Blue Book features a report for Canada, each province and the Greater Toronto Area.

"BMO's commercial customers across Canada are maintaining their cautious approach to the economy, however; the high dollar and low interest rates are providing opportunities for businesses to make investments that can improve productivity and create impressive returns," said Steve Murphy, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "BMO is armed with a highly-skilled team of experts that can make lending decisions at the local level to help its commercial clients boost productivity, expand into new markets and make strategic investment decisions that will help propel growth and drive success."

Doug Porter, Chief Economist, BMO Capital Markets, noted that the Canadian economy is continuing to grow at a modest pace. "A slowing housing market, sluggish consumer spending and a moderate dose of fiscal restraint are weighing on activity. Economic performance continues to vary by region, with Western Canada still outperforming the rest of Canada, albeit by a narrower gap than seen in recent years."

Regionally, according to the BMO Blue Book:

Western Canada:

  • Alberta's economy is expected to expand 2.5 per cent this year, well above the 1.6 per cent national rate
  • With a softer housing market, British Columbia is expected to hold steady at 1.7 per cent this year.

Prairies

  • Saskatchewan remains among the top economic performers in Canada, with real GDP expected to grow 2.4 per cent this year, up slightly from a 2.2 per cent pace in 2012
  • Manitoba's diverse economy continues to grow at a steady pace, with real GDP expected to remain above the national average at 2.0 per cent. Stability remains one of Manitoba's key economic strengths.

Central Canada

  • Ontario's economy will likely remain sluggish at a 1.5 per cent pace this year, while Quebec's should pick up to a still-soft 1.2 per cent
  • The good news is that the U.S. economy is poised to return to sustained 3 per cent-plus growth during the second half of the year, which should bolster growth in 2014.

Atlantic Canada:

  • Newfoundland & Labrador will likely see real GDP jump 5 per cent as offshore oil production rebounds and project construction ramps up.
  • Nova Scotia growth is poised to pick up over the medium term, with growth prospects firming as shipbuilding activity gets underway.
  • New Brunswick's economic growth will underperform the national average this year, but should pick up again in 2014.
  • Firmer public sector capital spending will support the PEI economy, which will continue to grow at a moderate pace.

The full BMO Blue Book can be downloaded at www.bmocm.com/economics.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $542 billion as at January 31, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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