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Canadian economy likely to slow, but COVID-19 threat to growth low

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By Indradip Ghosh and Mumal Rathore

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The Canadian economy is likely to grow at a slower pace this quarter and next than previously expected, but tighter lockdown restrictions from another wave of coronavirus were unlikely to derail the economic recovery, a Reuters poll showed.

Restrictions have been renewed in some provinces as they struggle with a rapid spread of the virus, which has already infected over 1 million people in the country.

After an expected 5.6% growth in the first quarter, the economy was forecast to expand 3.6% this quarter, a sharp downgrade from 6.7% predicted in January.

It was then forecast to grow 6.0% in the third quarter and 5.5% in the fourth, compared with 6.8% and 5.0% forecast previously.

But over three-quarters of economists, or 16 of 21, in response to an additional question said tighter curbs from another COVID-19 wave were unlikely to derail the economic recovery, including one respondent who said “very unlikely”.

Canada is undergoing a third wave of the virus and while case loads are accelerating, the resiliency the economy has shown in the face of the second wave suggests it can ride out the third wave as well, without considerable economic consequences,” said Sri Thanabalasingam, senior economist at TD Economics.

The April 12-16 poll of 40 economists forecast the commodity-driven economy would grow on average 5.8% this year, the fastest pace of annual expansion in 13 years and the highest prediction since polling began in April 2019.

For next year, the consensus was upgraded to 4.0% from 3.6% growth predicted in January.

What is likely to help is the promise of a fiscal package by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late last year, which the Canadian government was expected to outline, at least partly, in its first federal budget in two years, on April 19.

When asked what impact that would have, over half, or 11 of 20 economists, said it would boost the economy significantly. Eight respondents said it would have little impact and one said it would have an adverse impact.

“The economic impact of the federal government’s promised C$100 billion fiscal stimulus will depend most importantly on its make up,” said Tony Stillo, director of Canada economics at Oxford Economics.

“A stimulus package that enhances the economy’s potential could provide a material boost to growth without stoking price pressures.”

All but two of 17 economists expected the Bank of Canada to announce a taper to the amount of its weekly bond purchases at its April 21 meeting. The consensus showed interest rates left unchanged at 0.25% until 2023 at least.

“The BoC is set to cut the pace of its asset purchases next week,” noted Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics.

“While it will also upgrade its GDP forecasts, we expect it to make an offsetting change to its estimate of the economy’s potential, implying the Bank will not materially alter its assessment of when interest rates need to rise.”

 

 

(Reporting and polling by Indradip Ghosh and Mumal Rathore; editing by Rahul Karunakar, Larry King)

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Toronto Stock Exchange rises 0.64% to 19,310.74

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tsx

* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX rises 0.64 percent to 19,310.74

* Leading the index were Ero Copper Corp <ERO.TO​>, up 13.6%, Nexgen Energy Ltd​, up 12.6%, and Denison Mines Corp​, higher by 10.5%.

* Lagging shares were Kinaxis Inc​​, down 5.2%, Ballard Power Systems Inc​, down 3.9%, and Cominar REIT​, lower by 3.5%.

* On the TSX 132 issues rose and 93 fell as a 1.4-to-1 ratio favored advancers. There were 30 new highs and 1 new low, with total volume of 246.0 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Enbridge Inc, Suncor Energy Inc and Manulife Financial Corp.

* The TSX’s energy group rose 3.28 points, or 2.7%, while the financials sector climbed 2.69 points, or 0.8%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.58%, or $0.38, to $65.31 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.29%, or $0.2, to $68.68.

* The TSX is up 10.8% for the year.

This summary was machine generated May 5 at 21:03 GMT.

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Merkel wants Europe, United States to aim for new trade deal

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BERLIN (Reuters) – A trade agreement between the United States and the European Union would “make a lot of sense”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech in which she welcomed the United States’ return to the multilateral fold under President Joe Biden.

German enthusiasm for a trade deal and stronger transatlantic ties may have to contend with a more cautious approach in France, where President Emmanuel Macron has made a priority of reducing European reliance on rival superpowers.

Merkel said that while Germany had no interest in a world divided into camps as it was in the Cold War, it was good that the United States, Europe’s “most important ally”, stood alongside Europe in rivalries with China and Russia.

“I have always supported a trade agreement between the United States of America and the European Union,” she told a Berlin conference on the future of transatlantic ties.

“We have trade agreements with so many of the world’s regions. It would make a lot of sense to develop such a trade agreement here, similar to what we have done with Canada,” she added.

Merkel’s transatlantic coordinator Peter Beyer told Reuters in February that Germany and the new U.S. administration should “think big” and aim for an ambitious agenda including a trade deal to abolish industrial tariffs and a WTO reform to increase pressure on China.

The European Union has put reform of the World Trade Organization at the heart of its trade strategy for the next decade, saying global rules on commerce must be greener, take more account of state subsidies and be enforced.

The EU itself feels bruised by trade wars, Brexit and what it sees as unfair competition from China, which it perceives as a “systemic rival”, and is taking more assertive measures to enforce global trade rules and ensure a level playing field.

Merkel said that despite issues with its ratification in the EU, the bloc’s planned investment agreement with China, the comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI), is a “very important undertaking, because it gives us more reciprocity in market access”.

At the same time, it was necessary to address “the whole range of issues” with China, including its human rights record, she added.

The EU executive has hailed the CAI, struck at the very end of 2020, as a means to secure better access for European companies to Chinese markets and redress unbalanced economic ties.

But concerns over China’s human and labour rights record and scepticism from the United States had already cast doubt on the deal’s approval process even before Chinese blacklisting of five members of the European Parliament in tit-for-tat sanctions.

 

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt, Paul Carrel and Michael Nienaber; EDiting by Giles Elgood)

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Canadian dollar posts three-year high as risk appetite climbs

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By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar strengthened to its highest level in more than three years against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, supported by improved investor sentiment and the Bank of Canada‘s recent shift to more hawkish guidance.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high as the market recovered from a steep tech sell-off, after investors were encouraged by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s new comments on interest rates and a positive private jobs report.

“Risk-on conditions” and the recent move higher in commodity prices bolstered the Canadian dollar,” Ronald Simpson, managing director, global currency analysis at Action Economics, said in a note. “In addition, the BoC’s tapering of its QE program appears to have shifted USD-CAD’s trading range down a notch.”

Last month, the Bank of Canada cut the pace of its bond purchases and signaled it could hike interest rates in late 2022.

Further clues to the central bank’s policy outlook could come from Canada‘s April employment report, due for release on Friday.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.2% higher at 1.2280 to the greenback, or 81.43 U.S. cents, having touched its strongest intraday level since February 2018 at 1.2252.

U.S. crude oil futures settled 0.1% lower at $65.63 a barrel as traders used weekly inventory figures as an excuse to pull back from the recent rally. Oil is one of Canada‘s major exports.

Home sales in Toronto, Canada‘s most populous city, fell nearly 13% in April from March. That bucked the regular spring trend, as demand began to ease after months of blistering growth.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across the curve, with the 10-year little changed at 1.521%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Nick Zieminski)

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