Saskatchewan's Economy Will Remain One of the Hottest, Says BMO Economics



    REGINA, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - Saskatchewan finished last year in a boom mode,
led by surging potash production and an accelerating housing market, according
to a provincial economics outlook released today by BMO Financial Group.
    "Growth expanded in Saskatchewan to approximately 5 per cent, almost
twice the national rate," said Douglas Porter, Deputy Chief Economist,
BMO Capital Markets. "We anticipate continued strength for the province, with
another above-average performance of 3 per cent expected in 2008."

    Highlights of the report include:

    
    -   Residential investment continues to surge in the country's hottest
        housing market, with housing starts rising 61 per cent in 2007, while
        existing home prices are up more than 40 per cent year-over-year in
        Regina and Saskatoon.
    -   After losing people to other provinces for two decades, the province
        netted more than 9,100 inter-provincial in-migrants in the
        four quarters ended 2007Q3, the largest tally on record back to 1961.
    -   Consumer spending is on a tear, with retail sales up 12 per cent -
        the strongest in the country.
    -   The agriculture and potash sectors have shown no signs of slowing,
        and a $900 million capacity investment by Potash Corp is a testament
        to the strength.
    -   While economic growth will likely cool this year, record commodity
        prices and $100 oil will keep the party in the prairies going strong.
    -   The Province is projecting its 14th consecutive balanced budget for
        fiscal 2007/2008. Looking forward, however, Saskatchewan expects to
        return to a deficit position before any transfers from the
        Fiscal Stabilization Fund, as oil windfall and transfer revenues
        decline.
    

    The complete report can be found at www.bmocm.com/economics.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Laurie Grant,
laurie.grant@bmo.com, (604) 665-7596, Internet: www.bmo.com


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