The provincial economy appears to have started growing again in recent weeks, based on stats showing rising oil exports by pipe and rail, stronger wholesale and manufacturing shipments. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta economy doing better than expected in June forecast, TD economists note

CALGARY — Encouraging data points are forcing economists to consider upgrading their expectations for weak 2019 economic growth in Alberta as the province continues to recover from the effects of extreme heavy oil price weakness late last year.

The provincial economy appears to have started growing again in recent weeks, based on stats showing rising oil exports by pipe and rail, stronger wholesale and manufacturing shipments and a jump in small business confidence, says a report from TD Economics released Tuesday.

It also cites an improvement in the jobless rate and positive population growth, along with more upbeat trends in Alberta’s stalled retail sales and housing sectors.

“All in all, recent encouraging data have added credence to the view that economic growth in Alberta is gaining some traction,” the TD report says.

“While a continuation in this momentum would set the stage for a forecast upgrade, we remain cautious for now.”

In its quarterly provincial forecast in June, the bank suggested the province’s economy would grow by a “paltry” 0.5 per cent this year and a slightly better 2.1 per cent next year.

It said the province’s mandated oil production curtailments that started in January had succeeded in strengthening heavy oil prices in early 2019 but business and household spending remained hampered by concerns around medium-term energy investment.

Similarly, ATB Financial cut its 2019 growth expectations to 0.7 per cent in May from an earlier forecast of about 1.4 per cent, said Rob Roach, director of insight for the Alberta government-owned lender.

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag,” he said on Tuesday, citing statistics including Alberta’s recovery to a 6.6 per cent jobless rate in June from 7.3 per cent in February.

“There are definitely some signs of life but I think it’s too early to tell.”

ATB is more likely to increase its growth estimate than cut it, he conceded, in its next update in August.

The TD report arrives the day after the Calgary Stampede announced attendance at this year’s outdoor exhibition was 1.275 million, up about 4,200 from last year and second only to the event’s centennial year total of 1.4 million in 2012.

Roach said the rise in attendance is good news for the economy but doesn’t necessarily indicate a big change in consumer attitudes because it could mean people are staying in town to save money on a vacation.

The TD economists stopped short of an immediate upgrade in their forecast, noting the volatility of regional statistics and the newly elected United Conservative government’s likely moves to restrain provincial spending.

Just Posted

Red Deer would be the site of potential TV show

A potential TV show aims to bring Red Deer kids across the… Continue reading

Oilsands firms considering diluent recovery units to boost crude-by-rail volumes

CALGARY — Ongoing pipeline project delays and growth in crude-by-rail capacity from… Continue reading

Ex-Eskimos CEO gets new job among flurry of Alberta government appointments

Ex-Eskimos CEO gets job among flurry of appointments EDMONTON — Len Rhodes,… Continue reading

State of mind to be key issue in Alek Minassian trial, judge says

TORONTO — The trial of a man accused of killing ten people… Continue reading

WATCH: ‘Lots to see and do’ at Pioneer Days in Red Deer

Sunnybrook Farm Museum is celebrating its 24th annual Pioneer Days this weekend.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is condemning violence in Hong… Continue reading

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

OTTAWA — Emotions ran free in Ottawa Saturday as the more than… Continue reading

Liberals unveil $3B sole-source deal for armoured vehicles ahead of election

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government has unveiled plans to award a… Continue reading

85-year-old, lifting since 1950, on track to cinch weightlifting championship

MONTREAL — Olympic-style weightlifting isn’t just about strength or power. It’s about… Continue reading

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson comes out as gay after 40 years

OTTAWA — After 40 years, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has come out… Continue reading

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

SASKATOON — A minor injury cost former Humboldt Broncos hockey player Jacob… Continue reading

Police make arrest, Canadian ‘shocked’ after fiance’s murder in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand police have charged a man with… Continue reading

Most Read