ATB Financial has issued a rosy economic outlook for Alberta.
In its second-quarter forecast, issued on Tuesday, the financial institution projected that the province will lead its counterparts with real GDP expansion of 3.8 per cent this year.
“Alberta is bucking the sluggishness of the national economy,” said Todd Hirsch, ATB’s chief economist. “Momentum is expected to pick up modestly in 2014, led by a strong labour market, consumer confidence, in-migration, and decent results in the energy sector.”
The ATB forecast predicted “acceptable price ranges for crude oil and improving prices for natural gas,” with investment in conventional and non-conventional energy to remain stable and strong.
Energy transportation is a key issue, with ongoing delays by the White House on the Keystone XL pipeline keeping a cloud of uncertainty over the industry, it said. But there is a growing confidence that pipeline capacity will eventually increase, added ATB.
In the case of agriculture, if grain backlogs are addressed and this year produces an average crop, farmers should again be strong contributors to growth in 2014, said the forecast.
ATB noted that the migration of people into the province remains strong, with the net influx of 43,161 people into Alberta last year close to the 2006 record. This will impact the labour market, retail sales and the housing sector.
Globally, the economy continues to stabilize and show better economic results, said ATB. But it cited new worries, including tensions between Russia and Ukraine.