Strong Oil Prices Will Fuel Above-Average Growth for Alberta, Says BMO Economics



    CALGARY, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - Alberta's economy remains among the strongest in
the country, and with oil near $100, the province should post above-average
growth this year, according to a provincial economics report released today by
BMO Financial Group.
    "Consumer activity in the province is robust, job growth is firm, and
near-$100 oil is a boon for provincial coffers," said Douglas Porter, Deputy
Chief Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "We expect growth to decelerate this
year from an expected 3.8 per cent, but remain well above the national average
at 2.8 per cent."

    Highlights of the report include:

    
    -   Despite oil prices remaining near $100, a number of factors are
        contributing to slower growth in the province this year. The once
        white-hot housing market is cooling fast, a stalled inflow of
        provincial migrants, and an outright recession in drilling activity.
    -   But with oil near $100, a bust scenario is still a long-shot. Indeed,
        the pipeline of capital investment in the sector, despite announced
        and threatened cuts, has been estimated to be a hefty $237 billion.
    -   The demand for workers also remains firm, and the province should
        again outpace the nation in employment growth and retail sales this
        year. Indeed, the province still boasts the fastest rate of
        employment growth and the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
    -   Alberta continues to ratchet up its surplus estimates for Fiscal
        2007/2008. Revenue is now estimated to be $37.5 billion, up
        6.3 per cent from the budget estimate. Higher-than-expected oil
        prices and stronger tax revenue-both personal and corporate-are
        contributing to the upward revisions.
    

    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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