Canada's Economy Puts Brakes On at Start of 2014

OTTAWA - Canada's economy slowed at the start of this year, as higher household spending was offset by lower government and business outlays, the government statistical agency said Friday.

Growth was halved in the first quarter to 0.3%, from 0.7% in the last three months of 2013, Statistics Canada said.

At an annualized rate, gross domestic product (GDP) was 1.2%. Analysts had forecast a drop but were expecting better results.

According to Statistics Canada, household spending was up a mere 0.3% -- the smallest gain in four quarters -- while business investment on plants and equipment, government expenditures, and exports fell slightly.

Mining and oil and gas extraction, utilities, the finance and insurance sector, education, health and public administration, as well as accommodation and food services, manufacturing and retail trade were up.

Construction edged down, and professional services declined.

Canada's agriculture and forestry sector also reported a drop, mainly as a result of lower crop production.

As well, the arts and entertainment sector fell, in large part because of the participation of National Hockey League players in the Sochi Winter Olympics, "which resulted in fewer hockey games played in Canada in the first quarter," said Statistics Canada.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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