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US economy grew at moderate 2.1% rate in 3rd quarter – GuelphToday

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The U.S. economy, which only recently was flashing warning signs of a sharp slowdown, should finish the year in better shape, thanks to rate cuts from the Federal Reserve and a cease-fire in the U.S.-China trade war.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, grew at a moderate annual rate of 2.1% in the third quarter.

That was unchanged from the government’s previous estimate for activity in the July-September quarter although some of the components were revised. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of economic activity, grew at a stronger 3.2% pace, reflecting more spending on personal services such as beauty care, up from a previous estimate of 2.9% growth.

This boost was offset by a weaker reading for business inventory restocking.

Economists, who had been worried growth might all but disappear in the current October-December quarter, now believe the GDP is growing around 2% in the current quarter as well and are looking for that moderate pace to be sustained in the early part of 2020.

While 2% growth is below the gains of 3%-plus growth President Donald Trump has promised, it is far better than the recession many analysts feared could occur just a few months ago when financial markets were being roiled by rising tensions in the U.S.-China trade dispute and a global economic slowdown.

For all of 2019, the expectation is GDP growth will come in at 2.3%, down from the 2.9% gain achieved in 2018, the best since 2015. For 2020, analysts believe growth will slow further to 1.8% as the boost from the $1.5 trillion tax cut measure passed in 2017 fades further.

The economy is getting help from a phase one trade deal announced last week that should cool tensions between the United States and China. That announcement has helped push stock markets to new highs with rising optimism helped by better economic data of late. The economy gained 266,000 jobs in November with unemployment at a half-century low of 3.5%.

Three rate cuts by the Fed this year, after four rate hikes last year, has helped fuel the rebound and a budget agreement passed this week is expected to shower billions of dollars in increased spending on the military and domestic programs in the coming year, helping to support growth.

But even with those gains, analysts are forecasting that growth will slow further in 2020, hurt by such factors as continued uncertainty about future trade negotiations with China, a temporary halt in production of Boeing’s troubled 737 Max.

Another headwind could be the 2020 presidential election which is expected to raise business anxiety about the future course of government policies given the sharp differences between Trump and his Democratic challengers.

‘”I think next year is shaping up to be a rather pedestrian economy,””said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “’it will be creating enough jobs to avoid a recession but still job growth will be slowing compared to this year.”

Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press





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Economy

Canadian retail sales slide in April, May as COVID-19 shutdown bites

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december retail sales

Canadian retail sales plunged in April and May, as shops and other businesses were shuttered amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Statistics Canada data showed on Wednesday.

Retail trade fell 5.7% in April, the sharpest decline in a year, missing analyst forecasts of a 5.0% drop. In a preliminary estimate, Statscan said May retail sales likely fell by 3.2% as store closures dragged on.

“April showers brought no May flowers for Canadian retailers this year,” Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Statscan said that 5.0% of retailers were closed at some point in April. The average length of the closure was one day, it said, citing respondent feedback.

Sales decreased in nine of the 11 subsectors, while core sales, which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicles, were down 7.6% in April.

Clothing and accessory store sales fell 28.6%, with sales at building material and garden equipment stores falling for the first time in nine months, by 10.4%.

“These results continue to suggest that the Bank of Canada is too optimistic on the growth outlook for the second quarter, even if there is a solid rebound occurring now in June,” Mendes said.

The central bank said in April that it expects Canada’s economy to grow 6.5% in 2021 and signaled interest rates could begin to rise in the second half of 2022.

The Canadian dollar held on to earlier gains after the data, trading up 0.3% at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, editing by Alexander Smith)

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Canadian dollar notches a 6-day high

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Canadian dollar

The Canadian dollar strengthened for a third day against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, as oil prices rose and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reassured markets that the central bank is not rushing to hike rates.

Markets were rattled last week when the Fed shifted to more hawkish guidance. But Powell on Tuesday said the economic recovery required more time before any tapering of stimulus and higher borrowing costs are appropriate, helping Wall Street recoup last week’s decline.

Canada is a major producer of commodities, including oil, so its economy is highly geared to the economic cycle.

Brent crude rose above $75 a barrel, reaching its highest since late 2018, after an industry report on U.S. crude inventories reinforced views of a tightening market as travel picks up in Europe and North America.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents, after touching its strongest level since last Thursday at 1.2265.

The currency also gained ground on Monday and Tuesday, clawing back some of its decline from last week.

Canadian retail sales fell by 5.7% in April from March as provincial governments put in place restrictions to tackle a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada said. A flash estimate showed sales down 3.2% in May.

Still, the Bank of Canada expects consumer spending to lead a strong rebound in the domestic economy as vaccinations climb and containment measures ease.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a steeper curve, with the 10-year up nearly 1 basis point at 1.416%. Last Friday, it touched a 3-1/2-month low at 1.364%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Economy

Toronto Stock Exchange higher at open as energy stocks gain

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Toronto Stock Exchange edged higher at open on Wednesday as heavyweight energy stocks advanced, while data showing a plunge in domestic retail sales in April and May capped the gains.

* At 9:30 a.m. ET (13:30 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.77 points, or 0.08%, at 20,217.42.

(Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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