Alberta Becomes Canada’s Most Pessimistic Region, Poll Data Show

In a reversal of fortune, consumers in Canada’s prairie provinces Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have become the country’s most pessimistic.

An index of consumer confidence calculated by Nanos Research for the prairies fell to 49.2 last week, putting it behind every other region for the first time since the series began in 2008.

The decline has coincided with an oil price shock that has reduced prices for crude by more than half since June and triggered a housing market correction in cities such as Calgary and Regina. Ontario consumers have replaced those on the prairies as Canada’s most optimistic, according to the indexes.

Every week, Nanos Research asks Canadians for their views on personal finances, job security, the outlook for the economy and where real estate prices are headed. This is what the survey data, which is compiled for Bloomberg News, captured for the week through Feb. 20:

*The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index -- a national composite score based on the four survey questions -- declined to 53.8, the lowest since May 2013.

*The share of Canadians expressing optimism about the prospects for the economy was little changed at 14.6 percent, while those who see the economy weakening fell to 44.8 percent from 47 percent the previous week. The difference between pessimists and optimists, while narrowing to 30.2 percentage points from 32.6 points a week earlier, remains near the widest since the 2008-2009 recession.

*Survey respondents predicting real estate prices will fall increased to 20.1 percent, the biggest share since 2009, and almost double the level recorded in September. Those predicting prices will rise increased to 33.4 percent. The difference between optimists and pessimists at 13.4 percentage points was unchanged at the narrowest since May 2013.

*Job security remains elevated. The share of Canadians who describe their job as at least somewhat secure was 71 percent last week. While down from 71.7 percent a week earlier, it remains above its 12-month average of 68.5 percent.

*The boost in sentiment from falling gasoline prices and lower interest rates is wearing off. The share of Canadians who say their personal finances have improved fell to 21.2 percent last week, down from a record high of 25.3 percent three weeks ago.

*The Nanos index is derived from weekly polling based on phone interviews with 1,000 people, using a four-week rolling average of 250 respondents. The results are accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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