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Gross domestic product by industry
The Canadian economy grew by 0.2% in February, the same pace as in the previous month. While economic activity was bolstered by a rebound in utilities and strength in wholesale sales, finance and construction, it was slowed by a drop in output in the mining and oil and gas extraction sector and in manufacturing.
Construction still robust
Construction rose 0.6% in February. Residential building construction advanced for a sixth consecutive month, gaining 1.0%. The demand for single-family homes grew substantially in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. Non-residential building construction grew by 0.7%. All types of non-residential buildings (industrial, commercial and institutional) advanced. Engineering, repairs and other construction activities also rose 0.3%, boosted by construction activity in Western Canada.
Stock market activity supports growth in the financial sector
On the strength of buoyant stock markets, the financial sector gained 0.4% in February. For the third time in the past four months, stockbrokers' activity grew substantially (+1.8%). Real estate brokers' output grew less, increasing only 0.2%, in line with the home resale market.
Wholesale trade continues to grow
Continuing its surge of the past two months, wholesale trade grew 0.6% in February. Growth was recorded mainly by wholesalers of computers and electronic equipment, and of office equipment, but also by wholesalers of motor vehicles. The main sources of decline came from a steep drop in apparel sales, as well as from a decrease in sales of machinery and equipment.
Unlike in the previous four months, retail trade grew only slightly (+0.2%) in February. An upswing in the sales of supermarkets, gasoline stations and pharmacies was almost entirely offset by sharply reduced results for sporting good stores but more importantly by new car dealers. Excluding motor vehicle sales, overall retail sales advanced 1.1%.
Energy sector rebounds
Following a 3.0% drop resulting from especially mild weather in January, the energy sector grew 1.1% in February. Electric power generation and transmission and natural gas distribution contributed much to the sector's rebound, advancing respectively 5.1% and 4.6% and making up most of the ground lost in January.
Oil and natural gas extraction was down (-1.2%) for a second consecutive month, mainly because of unscheduled maintenance both in the tar sands area and on the East Coast. The drop in natural gas extraction was attributable to mild weather conditions which have kept existing inventories at much higher levels than usual.
Apart from activities related to energy resources, mining was down substantially, declining 2.1%. Potash producers, who were carrying large inventories and waiting for new supply contracts, cut back their output by nearly 15% for a second consecutive month. Base metal mining declined 2.3%, in turn causing a drop in the non-ferrous metal refining industry
Industrial production (the output of factories, mines and utilities) remained unchanged in February. The marked drop in mining activity (including oil and gas extraction) and the decline in manufacturing output were offset by a strong upswing in utilities. In the United States, industrial production grew 0.5%, with a strong advance in utilities partially offset by a reduction in mining and manufacturing output.
Rebound in motor vehicle output fails to offset drop in output of non-durable goods
Manufacturing output fell 0.4% in February. Eleven of the 21 major groups, accounting for 49% of total manufacturing output, decreased. The overall output of non-durable goods receded 1.7%. Except for beverages and tobacco products and leather and allied products, all major non-durable groups declined. Durable goods advanced 0.5%, propelled by metal products (+2.0%) and computer products (+1.1%) manufacturing. A rebound in the production of motor vehicles (+4.5%), and increases in the production of motor vehicle bodies and trailers as well as of gasoline engines and engine parts, contributed substantially to the strong showing of durable goods. The manufacture of aerospace products, railroad rolling stock and ship and boat building also contributed to the growth.