This week’s episode - week ending February 10, 2017
Canada’s job market continues to grow
48,300 jobs were added to the Canadian economy in January, a sharp contrast to expectations for a modest loss. Part-time work, mostly within the private sector, accounted for the majority of the gain, adding 32,400 jobs, while 15,800 full-time positions were added.
The unemployment rate ticked lower to 6.8%, while the participation rate also improved, moving higher to 65.9%. Of note was Ontario, which added the most number of new positions (28,800), while Quebec matched an all-time low for unemployment at 6.2%.
This now marks six consecutive months of strong Canadian employment data, improving 1.3% over the stretch, which is the biggest gain in 15 years.
Canadian housing data remains strong
Canadian housing starts grew by 207,400 in January, a slight increase after December’s tally was revised lower to 206,300. Condos made up the entire gain, as single-family homes declined during the month.
Regionally, Ontario led the gains, particularly helped by Toronto, which reported one of its strongest months on record. Atlantic Canada also moved higher, while all other regions declined, with British Columbia hit the worst.
Residential building permits, which precede housing starts, measured 230,000 in the fourth-quarter of 2016, suggesting further strength in Canadian housing data may still be ahead.
Canada & the U.S. Report improving Trade balances
Canada reported a second consecutive trade surplus, up $0.92 billion in December. Exports gained 0.8%, helped by firming oil prices and a slightly weaker Canadian dollar, while imports rose 1.6%.
In the U.S., the goods and services trade deficit narrowed more than expected to US$44.3 billion in December, improving by nearly US$1.5 billion.
The U.S.’s trade deficit with China declined 5.1% in 2016, though still a sizable US$347 billion, while the deficit with the E.U. also decreased 4.6%. Meanwhile, the trade deficit with Mexico actually rose by 8.3% during the year.
Other Economic News
China’s trade surplus increased to US$51.4 billion in January. Exports grew 7.9% year over year, while imports spiked 16.7% annualized on strong demand volumes for iron ore and crude oil. China’s foreign currency reserves fell a sixth straight time, now below the US$3 trillion level, a six-year low.
Industrial production levels for December were reported across the eurozone. Germany suffered its sharpest monthly fall since 2009, down 3%. France also contracted, down 0.9%. The U.K., however, grew 1.1%, while Italy beat expectations with a 1.4% advance.