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Canada Firms in Bank Survey Expect Stalling Sales Growth

Canadian businesses curbed their expectations for sales growth, investment and hiring over the next year on signs of weaker global demand, according to a Bank of Canada survey.

The balance of opinion for sales growth over the next year fell to zero from the prior measure of 15 percentage points, the Ottawa-based central bank said today. The balance subtracts the percentage of those who predict slower sales growth from those calling for an acceleration.

“In an environment of slow global economic growth and uncertainty about demand, firms have tempered their expectations for business activity,” the Business Outlook Survey report said.

Governor Mark Carney has kept his key interest rate at 1 percent since September 2010 and will probably keep it there through the first quarter of next year, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. The next announcement is Oct. 23, following reports of persistent trade deficits and slowing consumer price inflation.

The balance of opinion on employment over the next year declined to 26 points from the second-quarter reading of 53 percentage points, which equaled a record for the survey.

Investment-spending intentions fell to a three-year low of 8 percentage points from 24 percentage points. The survey of about 100 executives was taken from Aug. 27 to Sept. 20.

The central bank’s main goal is to keep inflation in the middle of a 1 percent to 3 percent band, and 95 percent of those surveyed said the consumer-price index will remain in that range over the next two years.

Executives said that credit conditions eased in the third quarter. About 20 percent of companies said credit conditions had eased, compared with 10 percent who said they had tightened and 71 percent reporting they were unchanged.

A separate survey of senior lending officers had a balance of opinion of negative 15.8 in the third quarter following the prior reading of negative 10.8, with figures less than zero indicating that lending conditions eased. The senior loan officer survey gathered responses from Sept. 17 to Sept. 21.

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