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INDUSTRY PULSE: Economy regains its footing in December

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Canada's economy got a boost in December after a months-long slump.

OTTAWA, Ont. — Canada’s economy got a boost in December after a months-long slump.

After a slowdown every month since June culminating in no change in November, the composite index advanced 0.2% in December, Statistics Canada reports.

Manufacturing responded to the gains in domestic demand. New orders jumped 1.0% in volume, their largest increase in six months. The ratio of shipments to stocks levelled off after a drop in November.

Six of the ten components rose in December, two more than in November. Manufacturing and services reinforced the steady growth of household demand, while the stock market strengthened further.

Household demand posted its strongest and most widespread gains in over two years, led by the booming housing market as well as steadily falling import prices and rising incomes. Furniture and appliance sales grew 0.9%, its largest monthly gain in six months, raising annual growth to 10.0%. Sales of other durable goods advanced 1.1%, driven by autos.

The housing index continued to hover near its 30-year high set in July, with only a small decline in housing starts and existing home sales. The housing rental market in British Columbia remained the strongest in the country. Vacancy rates rose in most other regions.

The average workweek rose for the first time since May, while factory jobs firmed in December after four straight declines.
The stock market recorded a fourth consecutive advance, led by the consumer goods sector. Industrial stocks broke out of a year-long slump with their best increase since December 2003.

The US leading indicator posted a third straight drop, but the rate of decline moderated. Housing starts fell to their lowest level in over a year. Instead, the industrial sector moved to the forefront.

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