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Sask. poised for strong recovery from pandemic: Professor – CTV News

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REGINA —
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Saskatchewan’s economy with many people losing their jobs and small businesses closing, but according to an economics professor at the University of Regina, the province is in a strong position to recover after the pandemic.

“Over the last half of 2020, we saw economic activity pick up sharply, so that’s a good sign,” Jason Childs, associate professor of economics at the University of Regina, said.

The entertainment and service industries have been hit the hardest.

According to Statistics Canada, there are more than 22,000 fewer jobs than the previous year in the province.

“This has been a hard year for everyone but there are 23,000 people who are facing the additional hardship and stress of being out of a job,” Official Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said in a email. “The Sask Party keeps trying to paint a rosy picture about our economy but these numbers tell the true story.”

After seeing a sharp increase during the lockdown early in the pandemic, Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate was only one per cent higher in February, 2021 than the same month in 2020.

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Merchandise exports were up 14.6 per cent year-over-year in January and retail sales also increased by 3.3 per cent in December, 2020 compared to the previous year.

“Our exports have held up really well, in fact, some increases have been seen in that sector and the agriculture sector did pretty well nationally last year, we don’t have the provincial numbers yet, but that looks pretty promising as well,” Childs said.

Saskatchewan chose to use less restrictions on the economy during the pandemic, allowing many personal services as well as restaurants and bars to remain open.

Childs said that appears to have given Saskatchewan an advantage with an end to the pandemic in sight.

“It appears to have helped employment in some sectors, particularly, the service industries where other jurisdictions you would have seen all those people be completely unemployed,” he said. 

How long it takes for the province’s economy to truly recover remains unknown.

“This has never been done in recent history, we’ve never seen a government actively shut down an economy like this anywhere else in the world on this scale, so we’re gazing into our crystal ball for the future,” Childs said. “What we do know, what happened in the later half of 2020, when we started to see economic activity ramp up very quickly, so what that tells me is once the restrictions get lifted then we’re going to see a very rapid return to growth.”

Childs cautions against too much government stimulus, which he said could lead to inflation.

“If we see an introduction of a lot of new government programming, that can be a drag on the return to economic growth,” he said. 

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03

* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO​>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp​, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc​, higher by 5.5%.

* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp​​, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc​, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd​, lower by 5.7%.

* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.

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Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.

Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.

“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”

Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.

The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.

Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.

Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Canadian dollar rebounds from one-week low ahead of jobs data

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, recovering from a one-week low the day before, as the level of oil prices bolstered the medium-term outlook for the currency and ahead of domestic jobs data on Friday.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.4% higher at 1.2560 to the greenback, or 79.62 U.S. cents. On Wednesday, it touched its weakest intraday level since March 31 at 1.2634.

“We have seen partial retracement from the decline over the last couple of days,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.

“With oil prices where they are – let’s call WCS still at roughly $49 a barrel – I still think CAD has room to strengthen over the medium term and even over a one-week horizon.”

Western Canadian Select (WCS), the heavy blend of oil that Canada produces, trades at a discount to the U.S. benchmark. U.S. crude futures settled 0.3% lower at $59.60 a barrel, but were up nearly 80% since last November.

The S&P 500 closed at a record high as Treasury yields fell following softer-than-anticipated labor market data, while the U.S. dollar fell to a two-week low against a basket of major currencies.

Canada‘s employment report for March, due on Friday, could offer clues on the Bank of Canada‘s policy outlook. The central bank has become more upbeat about prospects for economic growth, while some strategists expect it to cut bond purchases at its next interest rate announcement on April 21.

On a more cautious note for the economy, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, initiated a four-week stay-at-home order as it battles a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian government bond yields were lower across a flatter curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year fell 3.3 basis points to 1.469%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith;Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)

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