The Canadian economy expanded 3.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, led by an acceleration in household consumption spending as well as a nearly 3 per cent rise in business investment. The latter is a particularly welcome sign for the economy given that business investment had declined in eight of the previous nine quarters. A build up of inventories, especially in the manufacturing sector was also a significant contributor to growth in the first quarter, but also signals a slowing in the second quarter as firms produce fewer goods and wind down that inventory.
Although the Canadian economy has grown much faster than the Bank's estimate of potential growth for three consecutive quarters, it is not expected that the economy will sustain that level of growth for much longer. We forecast that real GDP growth will fall back to an average of 1.5 per cent quarterly growth for the remainder of 2017. However, the strong start to the year means that annual growth for this year is likely to register close to 2.5 per cent, the strongest economic growth in three years. Despite faster growth, a significant amount of slack remains in the economy and there is therefore very little pressure on inflation. Without a signal that inflation is going to push higher, the Bank will remain sidelined at least until early 2018 when it expects remaining slack in the economy will be eliminated.
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