CIBC cuts Canada's economic growth outlook to 1.3% for 2016

Less than a month into the year, CIBC is downgrading its outlook for the Canadian economy, forecasting growth of just 1.3 per cent, down from an earlier estimate of 1.7 per cent.

'Winter of discontent' on global markets may be overdoing the pessimism, bank suggests

People walk in downtown Calgary last September. Oil related layoffs may have begun there, but Canada is now feeling the 'negative spillover' into other sectors says CIBC. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Less than a month into the year, CIBC is downgrading its outlook for the Canadian economy, forecasting growth of just 1.3 per cent, down from an earlier estimate of 1.7 per cent.

A "winter of discontent in investor sentiment globally" has knocked stocks and commodities lower and is reverberating through the Canadian economy in other ways, says CIBC economist Avery Shenfeld.

He pointed to slower than anticipated growth in the fourth quarter of 2015, forecasting growth for the final quarter will be zero.

The 1.3 per cent growth after inflation is stripped out forecast by CIBC is more pessimistic than the 1.4 per cent predicted by the Bank of Canada in a report last week. 

Counting on federal stimulus

"Even to achieve that pace, we're allowing for an additional $10 billion in stimulus relative to the election platform and $30 billion in federal deficit and a slightly weaker track for the Canadian dollar," Shenfeld said in a report to clients.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz opted not to cut rates further last week, which some analysts interpreted as evidence that Poloz is waiting to gauge the impact of a federal stimulus budget.

The Liberal government has proposed billions in infrastructure spending in an effort to push up economic growth.

The low dollar is expected to boost jobs in export-oriented sectors.

Shenfeld says Canada is only just beginning to discover the negative spillover effects of low oil prices in other sectors.

Job losses spread

The Scotiabank Commodity Price Index showed downturns across base metals and other commodities as well as oil, coming in 4.9 per cent lower than the previous year. In the year to December, oil prices were down about 40 per cent, leading to an expectation that drilling in Canada would decline by about 15 per cent in 2016, according to Scotiabank commodity analyst Patricia Mohr.

That could result in job losses in sectors such as transportation and equipment that supply the resource sector, as well as consumer spending and housing markets.

Shenfeld said he is concerned about how employees laid off in the resource sector will find work.

But he said markets may have overdosed on pessimism with their steep drop in January.

Shenfeld saw hope in 2016 U.S. growth as American companies are hiring and that could mean good news for Canada.

He discounted the impact of the plunge in Chinese equities, saying the rising Shanghai market had no impact on Canada and there's no reason its fall, or the reevaluation of the yuan, should affect us now.


  • An earlier version of this story said CIBC cut its economic growth outlook for Canada in 2016 to 1.5 per cent. In fact, the bank cut its 2016 growth outlook to 1.3%.
    Jan 28, 2016 3:08 PM ET


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