Canada's gross domestic product expanded by 0.6 per cent in the final three months of 2014, a bit slower than the pace seen in the previous quarter but better than what analysts were expecting.

Statistics Canada said exports of goods and services fell 0.4 per cent between October and December after increasing 2.2 per cent in the previous three months. Much of the slowdown in exports was tied to the price of oil, as Canadian energy companies pumped out far less in response to plunging prices. 

"Exports of motor vehicles and parts (-3.5 per cent) and energy products (-1.3 per cent) were notably lower," the data agency said.

Overall, the 0.6 per cent quarterly expansion translates into a 2.4 per cent annual rate, which is stronger than the U.S.'s 2.2 per cent growth during the same period.

Rate cut less likely

The 2.4 per cent annual rate is slower than the 3.2 per cent expansion forecast seen during the fall of 2014, but still better than what economists had been expecting.

The economics team at Scotiabank was pleased with the unexpected gain. Their enthusiasm was tempered, however, because of weakness below the surface.

"More than half of that growth is driven by strong inventories accumulation," which is unlikely to be sustainable, the bank said.

Businesses that built up inventories, contributing to higher GDP, will have sell those good eventually, however, or output will slow.

"The Canadian consumer performed well over the quarter, but trade dragged on headline growth," Scotiabank said.

The bank says the GDP data is another sign the central bank will stand pat on rates when it announces its next policy decision tomorrow, its first since surprising everyone by cutting rates at the end of January.

Last week's inflation was also higher than Bank of Canada had predicted — further dampening expectations of another cut.