Ontario's economy continues to struggle but some relief in sight, says RBC



    TORONTO, July 3 /CNW/ - According to the latest provincial forecast
released today by RBC, a downbeat scenario continues to unfold in Ontario,
with economic growth expected to hover around 0.7 per cent for 2008, the
weakest pace of expansion for the province since the last recession in the
early 1990s.
    "The unexpected decline in the national economy in the first quarter of
this year was most likely the result of a notable contraction in activity
within Ontario's trade sector," said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and
chief economist, RBC. "The province's exports were pounded by the high
Canadian dollar and downturn in the U.S. economy, as well as poor weather
conditions and a strike at a major U.S. motor vehicle parts manufacturer that
disrupted auto production here."
    Ontario's manufacturing sector will continue to see international sales
hindered in 2008 as a result of the high dollar and sluggish U.S. economy.
Little improvement is foreseen for the province's important auto sector amid
plummeting motor vehicle sales in the U.S. and ongoing restructuring of the
"Big 3" North American producers. However a projected weakening in the
Canadian dollar and reacceleration of growth in the U.S. economy should bring
Ontario's exporters some relief by the end of this year and in 2009.
    The rest of the province's domestic economy is far more encouraging, the
report noted. Residential construction is holding up better than expected and
growth in consumer spending continues to be supported by a robust labour
market. Despite heavy losses of manufacturing jobs, Ontario continues to see
steady employment growth overall, thus keeping the unemployment rate near a
seven-year low. "The domestic economy remains in relatively good shape and
should allow Ontario's economic growth to stay in positive territory," noted
Wright.
    The main theme of the Provincial Outlook continues to be the different
paths the Eastern and Western parts of the country are taking. Record-high
commodity prices and strong global demand for resources sustain unprecedented
prosperity in the Western provinces, while the strong Canadian dollar,
downturn in the U.S. economy and high energy prices continue to cause hardship
in key sectors in provinces east of Manitoba. Saskatchewan is projected to
lead all of the provinces in economic growth for both 2008 and 2009, followed
by Alberta, while Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario are expected to lag
the group this year, but should show some improvement next year.

    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   2.6   2.0       8.9   6.0   2.0
    P.E.I.       2.0   1.2   1.6       0.8   0.7   0.6       7.7   4.5   3.7
    N.S.         1.6   2.0   2.4       4.8   4.7   4.0       4.2   5.5   4.5
    N.B.         1.6   2.0   2.5       4.2   4.2   3.4       5.7   4.6   4.0
    QUE.         2.4   1.0   2.3      48.6  47.1  40.0       4.6   4.3   4.4
    ONT.         2.1   0.7   2.2      68.1  68.7  59.3       3.9   4.4   4.5
    MAN.         3.3   2.7   2.7       5.7   5.9   4.5       8.8   8.5   7.0
    SASK.        2.8   3.7   3.8       6.0   6.6   4.5      13.0  12.0  11.0
    ALTA.        3.3   3.1   3.0      48.3  38.3  35.1       9.3   4.5   7.0
    B.C.         3.1   2.2   2.9      39.2  37.2  30.5       6.7   4.5   7.5
    CANADA       2.7   1.4   2.5       228   216   184       5.8   5.2   5.6


                   Employment                CPI


                  07    08    09        07    08    09
                  --    --    --        --    --    --
    NFLD.        0.6   2.0   0.5       1.5   2.5   1.4
    P.E.I.       1.0   1.3   0.3       1.8   3.2   1.5
    N.S.         1.3   1.0   1.9       1.9   3.0   1.6
    N.B.         2.1   1.6   1.0       1.9   1.8   1.5
    QUE.         2.3   1.4   1.3       1.6   2.2   1.4
    ONT.         1.6   1.5   1.3       1.8   2.0   1.5
    MAN.         1.6   2.1   1.7       2.0   2.0   1.5
    SASK.        2.1   2.4   2.3       2.8   3.4   2.6
    ALTA.        4.7   3.0   2.1       5.0   3.3   2.5
    B.C.         3.2   2.6   2.5       1.8   2.0   1.5
    CANADA       2.3   1.9   1.6       2.1   2.3   1.6
    





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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