It's Quebec to the Rescue as Canada Consumer Optimism Stabilizes

  • Sentiment in prairies continues slide to 2008 levels
  • Broad confidence index is unchanged, halting 7-week drop

A seven-week decline in optimism by Canadian consumers has stabilized, with a rebound in Quebec helping buttress fading fortunes in energy-rich prairie provinces coping with the oil price shock.

The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index held steady this week at 53.8, unchanged from a week earlier while remaining below the 12-month average of 55.4, telephone polling by Nanos Research shows. The index measures consumer expectations for the economy, real estate, job security and personal finances.

The stabilization in confidence is due overwhelmingly to the increase over two weeks in Quebec, the country’s second-most-populous province, where sentiment rose to 56.6, the highest since November and exceeding the 12-month average of 54. Expectations slid in the prairies, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, while increasing slightly in British Columbia.

The picture continues to worsen in the prairies -- Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba -- with confidence sliding to 44.5, the lowest since 2008, though polling showed a positive sign: one sub-index, measuring personal finance, was unchanged after four weeks of decline. It’s a jarring turnaround for a region that has been Canada’s economic engine for the past decade, driven by the energy sector.

“The economic mood in the prairies has gone from the highest in the country to the lowest,” Nanos Research Group Chairman Nik Nanos said, citing a cycle of “negative forward sentiment.”

Nationally, the share of those expecting the economy to strengthen over the next six months fell to 19 percent, its lowest point since September and down from 20.5 percent a week earlier. The share of those expecting it to weaken, meanwhile, also fell to 36.6 percent from 38 percent a week earlier.

Consumer optimism remains highest in British Columbia, where the index sits at 59.4, up from 59.2 a week earlier. Optimism in Ontario was at 55.5, versus 51.7 in Atlantic Canada and 44.5 in the prairies.

The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index is based on two sub-indexes measuring personal finances, job security, housing prices and expectations for the economy overall. It’s based on a four-week rolling average of 1000 poll respondents, and is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE