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The winter of our (economic) discontent gives way to spring

These are stories Report on Business followed this week.

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Given the ups and downs of a brutally slow global recovery, you can never tell exactly what you're going to get.

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But that icy winter appears to be giving way to a brighter spring.

We've been here before, of course, and we've seen these "green shoots" before. But economists are hopeful as indicators pick up in Canada and the United States, and the euro debt crisis fades into memory, though not for the unemployed.

"Green shoots (remember that relic from the financial crisis?) were all over the economic data this week," said senior economist Robert Kavcic of BMO Nesbitt Burns, referring to various indicators, including Canadian gross domestic product, U.S. manufacturing, and auto sales "just shy of the best level in seven years."

The week began with Statistics Canada reporting Monday that the economy rebounded in January, expanding by 0.5 per cent and undoing the losses of a wintry December.

Later in the week, the federal agency reported that Canada's trade balance rebounded in February to a $290-million surplus as a big jump in exports turned the trade picture around from January's $337-million deficit.

Friday's better-than-expected labour market report capped off the week, with a fresh measure showing unemployment dipping to 6.9 per cent in March amid job creation to the tune of almost 43,000.

At the same time, the U.S. economy scored a decent reading, though the jobless rate held firm.

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The jobs picture in Canada isn't completely spring-like, though over the course of the year, employment is up by 190,000. The letdown came in the fact that part-time work represented the bulk of the gains, at some 30,000, though full-time positions did climb by almost 4,000.

At the same time, the public sector accounted for more than 39,000 new jobs, the private sector for 4,000.

All in all, good news, yes. But …

"While all of this positive economic data are reassuring, Canada's economy isn't firing on all cylinders just yet," said Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Leslie Preston.

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