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Economy Canadian economic growth beats expectations, boosting prospects of rate hike

Canada’s economy shrugged off the effects of bad weather to post unexpected growth in April, pushing up the Canadian dollar and boosting the prospects for an interest rate hike next month.

Statistics Canada said on Friday that GDP rose by 0.1 per cent from March, the seventh time in the last eight months that the economy has expanded. Analysts in a Reuters poll had predicted no change.

The Bank of Canada has raised rates three times since July 2017. The chance of an interest rate hike at the July 11 announcement jumped to almost 80 per cent from 67 per cent, the overnight index swaps market indicated.

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Stephen Poloz, the central bank’s governor, on Wednesday said economic data would decide the next move.

“This certainly doesn’t hurt the case for a hike (in July) with growth beating expectations and with Statistics Canada sounding fairly aggressive that it would have been stronger yet if it were not for adverse weather effects,” said Derek Holt, vice president of capital markets economics at Scotiabank.

“I think the bank is going in July,” he said by phone.

Colder-than-normal temperatures, including an ice storm across central and eastern Canada, helped cut retail trade by 1.3 per cent. Construction declined by 0.5 per cent.

Manufacturing rose by 0.8 per cent from March on higher output of machinery as well as food products and chemical products.

The Canadian dollar strengthened to a 10-day high against its U.S. counterpart. Shortly after the data release, it was trading 0.4 per cent higher at $1.3200 to the greenback, or 75.76 U.S. cents.

Separately, Statscan said Canadian producer prices rose by 1.0 per cent in May from April, the fifth consecutive increase, on higher prices for energy and petroleum products.

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Of the 21 major commodity groups, prices were up in 17 and down in one, leaving three unchanged. The advance was the greatest since the 1.5 per cent jump seen in November 2017.

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