Canada Investment Spending Seen Slowest Since Recession

Canadian investment spending will increase this year at the slowest pace since the 2009 recession, a government survey projects, adding to evidence there may be little scope for growth to accelerate in the world’s 11th- largest economy.

Spending on construction, machinery and equipment will increase 1.7 percent to C$398.2 billion ($388 billion) in 2013, following a 7.2 percent rise in 2012, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa, based on a survey of businesses and governments. Excluding housing, investment may grow 2.2 percent after a 6.5 percent gain in 2012, the agency said.

The report suggests businesses aren’t picking up the slack created by slowing spending from indebted households, amid sluggish global demand and weak commodity prices. Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said Feb. 25 the “rotation” of demand from the country’s indebted households to businesses “is the fundamental challenge” for the country’s economy.

“Canadian businesses have taken a cautious turn amid an uncertain outlook and weaker commodity prices,” Benjamin Reitzes, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, said in a note to investors. “The softness in private sector capital spending intentions doesn’t bode well for 2013 growth, especially given hopes the sector would be a key contributor.”

Canada’s currency slipped 0.1 percent to C$1.0267 per U.S. dollar at 10:12 a.m. Toronto time. One Canadian dollar buys 97.40 U.S. cents. Swaps trading suggests investors are pricing in 12 basis points of easing by the Bank of Canada by its Dec. 4 announcement.

Weakest Pace

Recent data suggest Canada’s economy is growing at the weakest pace since 2009 as the nation’s exporters struggle to sell goods abroad. Statistics Canada releases fourth-quarter growth figures on March 1 that are projected to show output stalled at an annualized 0.6 percent in the last three months of 2012, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The Bank of Canada forecast gross domestic product increased at a 1 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter, and projects 2 percent growth for 2013.

Eight of the 21 industries tracked by Statistics Canada will record declines in capital spending this year, and another seven will post slowing growth. The survey of 28,000 private and government organizations was conducted between October and January, the statistics agency said.

Oil, Gas

Investment by mining, oil and gas companies will decrease 2.7 percent, after increasing 4.1 percent in 2012, largely reflecting a 32 percent decline by the metal ore mining industry, Statistics Canada said. Capital spending by the oil and gas industry will rise 0.8 percent to C$58.8 billion, unchanged from 2012.

Non-residential construction will rise 1.4 percent, after growth of 7.2 percent in 2012, while spending on machinery and equipment will increase 3.6 percent, compared with a 2012 gain of 5.3 percent, the survey showed.

The transportation and warehousing industry will record the biggest gains in spending, a 12.8 percent increase that reflects gains in expenditures to build new pipelines, Statistics Canada said.

Housing investment is forecast to rise 0.2 percent, following a 9.3 percent gain in 2012. Investment spending by government and state-owned companies will grow 5 percent in 2013, from 4.9 percent in 2012, led by new planned investments by utilities.

To contact the reporter on this story: Theophilos Argitis in Ottawa at targitis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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