Statistics Canada says fourth-quarter growth was driven by a 2.3 per cent increase in business investment compared with the third quarter. (SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Economy expands 1.7% in fourth quarter of 2017

Economy expands 1.7% in fourth quarter of 2017 to cap off year of 3% growth

The Canadian economy expanded at a pace of 1.7 per cent over the final three months of 2017, a rate that was below the rapid growth seen in the first half of the year, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The agency’s latest numbers for real gross domestic product showed the economy grew three per cent for all of 2017, which was a much-stronger pace than 2016 when growth was 1.4 per cent.

The fourth-quarter expansion of 1.7 per cent came in higher than growth in the third quarter, which was revised to 1.5 per cent from 1.7 per cent.

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Growth in the fourth quarter was driven by a 2.3 per cent increase in business investment compared with the third quarter, and a 0.5 per cent quarter-over-quarter rise in household spending, the report said.

For all of 2017, the agency said household spending easily made the biggest contribution to growth, followed by inventory and business investment. Exports also grew for the second-straight year with gains in both goods and services.

“Much of this growth was attributable to the first two quarters of 2017, with deceleration observed toward the end of year,” the report said.

The three per cent figure for 2017 matches the projection by private-sector economists that was included in Tuesday’s federal budget. The budget also predicts real GDP growth of 2.2 per cent in 2018 and 1.6 per cent next year.

Statcan revised its real GDP numbers upward for the first and second quarters of 2017.

Related: Bank of Canada hikes interest rate to 1.25%, cites strong economic data

For the first quarter, the estimate was increased to four per cent from 3.7 per cent; for the second quarter, revised growth was 4.4 per cent, up from its initial reading of 4.3 per cent.

By industry throughout 2017, the report said the growth was “widespread” with 18 of the 20 sectors showing increases.

Goods-producing industries expanded 4.6 per cent, compared to two-straight annual contractions of 0.5 per cent in 2016 and 1.7 per cent in 2015. The biggest contribution to growth from the goods-producing industries in 2017 came from natural resources extraction, which expanded 7.8 per cent.

Services industries expanded 2.8 per cent last year for their highest pace of growth since 2011. It was led by a 7.5 per cent boost from the wholesale-trade sector.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

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