The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence went up 9 points in February, reaching 110.6. This was the most significant monthly increase since March 2015, and the index is now at its highest level in over seven years.
Matthew Stewart, Associate Director for National Forecasting, says "February's gains suggest the recent string of solid job creation at the national level, as well as the improved economic outlook for 2017 have Canadians feeling more upbeat."
Quebec and Ontario most improved
In Quebec and Ontario, the balance of opinion rose on all four survey questions, indicating the provinces improved the most in consumer confidence. This could be due to good economic growth last year in the provinces. The two provinces also saw the creation of the bulk of full-time positions resulting from the Canadian economy recently, said the Conference Board. Economic growth in the US is also a factor, as the two provinces heavily rely on trade with the US. The meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump also could be a factor, because of Trump’s tone regarding Canada’s role in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Quebec’s index went up 13.9 points this month, and Ontario’s, 10.5.
Weak outlook for the Maritimes
Alberta also saw an increase in consumer confidence in February, with the index going up 8.2 points. It reached 67.5 points, its highest level since March 2015. A reason for this could be stability in crude prices above US$50 a barrel, says the Conference Board. Despite a weak economy, Alberta is expecting an improvement in job prospects for the fourth month in a row for February. Household finances in the province improved, however its index is over 30 points lower than it was, on average, in 2014.
For Saskatchewan-Manitoba, the index rose 7.1 points. British-Columbia’s went up 2.3 points. The index declined for the Atlantic provinces, going down 3.9 points due to weak economic outlook for the region.