Canada’s economy slid to a halt in February as the COVID-19 outbreak abroad dampened global growth.
Gross domestic product was unchanged from January, missing economist estimates for a 0.1 per cent gain, Statistics Canada reported Thursday. That follows a 0.2 per cent jump in the prior month.
Thursday’s numbers don’t provide much insight into the trajectory of the economy since conditions rapidly deteriorated in March when strict social distancing measures took effect. March GDP numbers to be released next month will likely offer greater insight into the extent of the virus on the economy.
- The report shows that the Canadian economy was slowing even before the pandemic really hit. Things will get much worse, with Statistics Canada already releasing a “flash” GDP report for March that showed a nine per cent decline during the month, and a 2.6 per cent for the first quarter as a whole.
- Rail blockades and labor strikes at schools disrupted economic activity in February with contractions in both the transportation and warehousing sectors and educational services industry
- Excluding the education and transportation sectors, the economy would have posted a 0.2 per cent gain with 13 of 20 sectors increasing
- Initial impacts of COVID-19 were noticeable in the air transport sector which was down 2.6 per cent in Feb.
- Accommodation and food services were also impacted by the outbreak, Statistics Canada said
- The real estate sector was a major contributor to growth, jumping 5.9 per cent in February
- On an annual basis, GDP rose 2.1 per cent
- In a separate release, the agency said the number of payroll employees declined 35,000 in February, led lower by losses in the wholesale trade sector. That’s already the fastest monthly decline since 2015.
- Wages were up 3.7 per cent from a year earlier.
–With assistance from Erik Hertzberg.
CPA Canada hit by cyberattack, affecting data of more than 329000 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, June 4, 2020 4:15PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 4, 2020 5:41PM EDT
TORONTO – A cyberattack on the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada website has affected the personal information of more than 329,000 members and stakeholders, the organization said.
The information includes names, addresses, emails and employer names, but passwords and credit card numbers were protected by encryption, CPA Canada said.
It warned the data could be used in email phishing scams and encouraged those affected to “remain vigilant.”
The attack by “unauthorized third parties” occurred between Nov. 30 and May 1, according to an internal investigation carried out with the help of cybersecurity experts.
The organization said it beefed up its security measures and contacted the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and privacy authorities after learning of “a possible security incident” the week of April 20.
“Upon discovering this, CPA Canada took immediate steps to secure its systems and conduct a thorough analysis to determine what information may have been involved,” the group said in an email.
“There is no evidence that the encryption keys were affected in this incident and we have no reason to believe the encryption was compromised.”
The personal information relates mainly to the distribution of CPA Magazine and everyone affected has been notified, the organization said.
Hacks against a wide range of companies since 2018 have included medical test laboratory LifeLabs and credit union Desjardins, which combined saw the theft of the personal information of more than 19 million Canadians.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020.
Canada's trade deficit doubled to $3.3B in April as COVID-19 walloped imports and exports – CBC.ca
Canada’s exports and imports plunged in April on falling oil prices and as the coronavirus pandemic shut down factories and retail stores, Statistics Canada said on Thursday, adding that the reopening of most auto assembly plants may help trade in the coming months.
“We are really getting hammered with respect to cars and crude,” said Peter Hall, chief economist at Export Development Canada.
Total exports fell 29.7 per cent to $32.7 billion in April, the lowest level in more than 10 years, and imports declined 25.1 to $35.9 billion, the lowest since February 2011, Statscan said.
The April trade deficit widened to $3.25 billion from a revised $1.53 billion in March, Statscan said, larger than the $2.36 billion forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.
Exports of energy products fell $3.6 billion, the largest decrease on record, Statscan said. Crude oil exports led the decline, plunging 55.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, exports of passenger cars and light trucks slumped 84.8, while imports plunged 90 per cent.
The slump in auto and energy exports because of shutdowns was also reflected in Canada-U.S. trade data, where total trade fell by $23.4 billion, representing more than 90 per cent of Canada’s trade activity decline. The neighbouring countries’ automotive and energy sectors are highly integrated.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and forced officials in Canada to shutter non-essential businesses and urge people to stay at home. In recent weeks, Canada’s 10 provinces have gradually begun to restart their economies.
“While some factories and retailers began to reopen in May, it’s likely to take until the June data to see any material signs of rebounding economic activity,” said Royce Mendes, a senior economist at CIBC.
“With the focus now shifting to the recovery stage, and with many economies gradually re-opening since May, the worst is hopefully in the rearview mirror,” TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said.
The Canadian dollar extended its decline after the release of the data, falling to 73.88 cents US.
Canada's mortgage insurer tightens rules as it forecasts home-price drop of up to 18% – Financial Post
TORONTO — The government-backed Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said on Thursday it would tighten rules for offering mortgage insurance from July 1, after forecasting declines of between 9 per cent and 18 per cent in home prices over the next 12 months.
The move would make it harder for riskier borrowers, who offer down payments of less than 20 per cent, to access CMHC’s default mortgage insurance.
CMHC is establishing a minimum credit score of 680 instead of the current 600, the group said in an emailed statement.
It will also limit total gross debt servicing ratios to its standard requirement of 35 per cent of annual income, compared with a threshold as high as 39 per cent currently, and total debt servicing to 42 per cent versus as much as 44 per cent now.
The measures will help curtail “excessive demand and unsustainable house price growth,” CMHC Chief Executive Evan Siddall said in the statement.
He said COVID-19 has exposed longstanding financial-market vulnerabilities, and “we must act now to protect the economic futures of Canadians.”
Some 35 per cent of Canadian banks’ mortgages are insured, their financial statements show. CMHC is the top mortgage insurer, while Genworth MI Canada and other private companies also provide similar products.
Despite evaporating activity in the housing market due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prices have continued to rise as listings have fallen off alongside demand.
Home prices across the country rose 1.3 per cent in April from March, and data from Toronto and Vancouver real estate boards showed increases of 3 per cent and 2.9 per cent in May, respectively, from a year earlier.
The CMHC has taken a more bearish view of the housing market than others. Last week, some of Canada’s biggest banks forecast maximum price declines of about 7 per cent.
Siddall last week responded to critics of its more dire outlook, saying on Twitter they were “whistling past the graveyard and offering no analysis.”
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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