OTTAWA, Feb. 28, 2017 /CNW/ - The Conference Board of Canada's Index of Consumer Confidence rose 9.0 points in February to 110.6. This was the largest monthly increase since March 2015, putting the index at its highest level in more than seven years.
"February's gains suggest the recent string of solid job creation at the national level, as well as the improved economic outlook for 2017 have Canadians feeling more upbeat," said Matthew Stewart, Associate Director, National Forecasting.
- The Index of Consumer Confidence rose 9.0 points, its largest monthly increase since March 2015.
- Quebec and Ontario had the most significant improvements in consumer sentiment, with increases of 13.9 and 10.5 points, respectively.
- The Atlantic index was the only one to decline in February.
Quebec and Ontario saw the most significant improvements in consumer confidence, with the balance of opinion rising on all four survey questions in both provinces. Ontario and Quebec saw solid economic growth in 2016 and the two provinces are also responsible for the bulk of the full-time positions created by the Canadian economy in recent months. Both provinces' economies are also highly dependent on trade with the United States, which is continuing to show solid economic momentum and strong job creation. The first meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau may have also helped to allay some fears about the nature of Canada's trading relationship with the United States, given the more collegial tone struck by President Trump regarding Canada's role in a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Quebec's index rose 13.9 points this month, while Ontario's increased by 10.5 points.
Consumer confidence also increased in Alberta in February, with the provincial index rising 8.2 points to 67.5 – its highest level since March 2015. The recent stability in crude prices above US$50 a barrel seems to have translated into optimism in Alberta about the future course of the province's economy. Despite a weak employment performance last month, expectations regarding job prospects improved for the fourth consecutive month in February. Relative to January, more Albertans also indicated that their household finances had improved compared to six months ago. However, even after reaching a near two-year high in February, Alberta's index remains more than 30 points below its 2014 average.
The Saskatchewan–Manitoba index rose 7.1 points to 83.9. Manitobans in particular were feeling significantly more optimistic about their household finances and the prospect of making a major purchase. British Columbia's index rose 2.3 points in February to 126.4. The province saw an improvement in the balance of opinion regarding future financial conditions. Households on the West Coast were also more confident about their job prospects than they were in January and these developments have consumers feeling more optimistic about buying items such as homes and cars.
The index for the Atlantic provinces was the only one to decline in February, falling by 3.9 points. This is not surprising given the weak economic outlook for much of the region.
The survey was conducted between February 6-16, 2017.
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