CALGARY – Economists at TD Bank say they are looking at upgrading their Alberta growth expectations for 2019 as signs point to a more robust than expected recovery from the effects of extreme heavy oil price weakness in late 2018.
The bank suggested in a forecast in June that the province’s economy would grow by a “paltry” 0.5 per cent this year and a slightly better 2.1 per cent next year.
It said the province’s mandated oil production curtailments had worked to strengthen heavy oil prices in early 2019 but business and household spending remained hampered by concerns around medium-term energy investment.
In its update report, however, it says the provincial economy appears to have started growing again in recent weeks, based on rising oil exports by pipe and rail, stronger wholesale and manufacturing shipments and a jump in small business confidence.
It also cites an improvement in the jobless rate and positive population growth, along with more upbeat trends in Alberta’s stalled retail sales and housing sectors.
The economists stop short of an immediate upgrade in their forecast, however, noting the volatility of regional statistics and the newly elected provincial government’s likely move to restrain spending.
“All in all, recent encouraging data have added credence to the view that economic growth in Alberta is gaining some traction,” the report says.
“While a continuation in this momentum would set the stage for a forecast upgrade, we remain cautious for now.”