Newfoundland and Labrador economy slowing, though consumer confidence remains high, says RBC



    TORONTO, Oct. 8 /CNW/ - While Newfoundland and Labrador's economic growth
is forecast to be negligible this year at 0.2 per cent and only moderate in
2009 at around 1.3 per cent, this masks strong activity in the province's
housing market and retail stores, according to the latest provincial outlook
released today by RBC.
    "Record oil prices, steady declines in unemployment, tax cuts and the
announcement of a go-ahead deal on the Hebron offshore project have given
consumers a boost in confidence," said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and
chief economist, RBC. "Nonetheless, while domestic conditions are generally
strong, growth in the economy is expected to slow significantly relative to
last year as a result of a leveling off in oil production."
    According to the report, the return to full production of the Terra Nova
offshore project and completion of White Rose's expansion, which had boosted
crude oil output by more than 20 per cent in 2007, will likely make flat or
slightly negative contributions to provincial growth this year. Through the
first six months of this year, crude oil production was down almost nine per
cent year-over-year.
    The long-standing exodus to other, more prosperous provinces has started
to reverse over the past year, allowing the population count to rise again
after 15 straight years of declines. This expansion in the population
stimulates demand for both housing and consumer goods and services. In fact,
Newfoundland and Labrador has emerged as one of Canada's hot spots in housing
this year.
    The outlook for provinces has generally darkened as a result of the
recent dramatic turn in the year-long financial market crisis. The U.S.
economy now appears to be in recession with Europe, the U.K. and Japan also
sinking fast. While Canada is in better position with its financial sector
less heavily impaired, overall growth will be substantially weaker than
previously anticipated.
    Among the provinces, Saskatchewan will lead the way this year and next in
terms of economic growth, with Manitoba closely behind. The Atlantic region is
expected to display continued resilience and should sustain a moderate pace of
expansion for the most part. Conditions in the most western part of the
country are on a deteriorating path. Eroding housing situations and rapidly
slowing growth in consumer spending have prompted downward revisions to the
forecasts for British Columbia and Alberta. With weak external trade
continuing to exert a toll, cracks have appeared in the domestic foundations
of Ontario and Quebec. Ontario will likely see its growth evaporate.

    The RBC Economics Provincial Outlook assesses the provinces according to
economic growth, employment growth, unemployment rates, personal income
growth, retail sales, housing starts, and the Consumer Price Index.
    According to the report (available online as of 8 a.m. E.D.T., at
www.rbc.com/economics/market/pdf/provfcst.pdf) provincial forecast details are
as follows:

    
                    Real GDP           Housing starts         Retail sales

                                         Thousands
                07     08     09      07     08     09      07     08     09
                --     --     --      --     --     --      --     --     --
    NFLD.      9.1    0.2    1.3     2.6    2.8    3.0     9.0    8.0    4.0
    P.E.I.     2.0    1.9    1.4     0.8    0.7    0.5     7.7    5.5    3.5
    N.S.       1.6    2.0    2.0     4.8    4.2    3.2     4.2    5.5    4.0
    N.B.       1.6    2.0    2.5     4.2    4.1    3.3     5.7    5.5    4.0
    QUE.       2.4    0.7    1.2    48.6   45.7   39.0     4.6    5.5    3.5
    ONT.       2.1    0.0    0.4    68.1   75.0   66.5     3.9    5.0    2.8
    MAN.       3.3    3.1    2.3     5.7    5.4    5.4     8.8    8.0    5.5
    SASK.      2.8    3.9    3.5     6.0    6.8    5.3    13.0   12.0    7.5
    ALTA.      3.3    2.2    3.0    48.3   30.2   31.3     9.3    1.5    6.5
    B.C.       3.1    1.2    2.1    39.2   34.8   26.0     6.7    3.0    6.5
    CANADA     2.7    0.9    1.5     228    209    183     5.8    4.7    4.3


                  Employment                CPI


                07     08     09      07     08     09
                --     --     --      --     --     --
    NFLD.      0.7    2.0    0.6     1.4    3.1    2.1
    P.E.I.     1.1    1.7    0.5     1.8    3.8    2.4
    N.S.       1.3    1.1    0.9     1.9    3.6    2.3
    N.B.       2.1    0.9    0.9     1.9    2.2    2.1
    QUE.       2.3    0.8    1.1     1.6    2.5    2.0
    ONT.       1.6    1.5    1.2     1.8    2.6    2.0
    MAN.       1.6    1.8    1.5     2.1    2.5    2.6
    SASK.      2.1    1.6    2.0     2.9    3.4    2.7
    ALTA.      4.7    2.6    2.1     4.9    3.7    2.9
    B.C.       3.2    2.4    1.4     1.7    2.5    2.0
    CANADA     2.3    1.6    1.3     2.1    2.7    2.2
    





For further information:

For further information: Craig Wright, RBC Economics, (416) 974-7457;
Robert Hogue, RBC Economics, (416) 974-6192; Jackie Braden, RBC Media
Relations, (416) 974-2124


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