December 4, 2015 / 1:46 PM / 2 years ago

Weak Canada jobs, trade data discouraging for fourth quarter growth

3 Min Read

Overhead view of the 2014 Spring National Job Fair and Training Expo in Toronto, April 3, 2014.Aaron Harris

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada shed more jobs than expected in November, while exports tumbled in October, suggesting the economy was off to a weak start in the final quarter of 2015 after just recently emerging from a mild recession.

The country lost 35,700 jobs last month, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday, though the decline was mostly due to the erasure of a temporary boost the labor market had received from the general election in October.

"We're effectively back to square one," said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The loss was led by a 32,500 decline in public administration jobs, which was nearly entirely accounted for by a gain in October driven by election hiring. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.1 percent.

Hiring did rise in manufacturing and construction, while natural resources managed a small gain. But the unemployment rate in Alberta, which has been hit hard by tumbling oil prices, jumped to 7 percent, the highest since April 2010.

The country's trade deficit unexpectedly climbed to C$2.76 billion ($2.08 billion) in October as exports to the U.S. market dropped by the most in almost two-and-a-half years.

The Canadian dollar weakened against the greenback immediately after the reports. [CAD/]

Overall exports dropped by 1.8 percent as volumes fell, with the declines widespread. Exports for September were also revised down.

The sector helped Canada pull out of recession in the third quarter and the deterioration bodes poorly for growth in the final months of the year, particularly after the economy shrank in September.

"This one hurts because it further diminishes the prospects for GDP growth in the fourth quarter," said Jimmy Jean, senior economist at Desjardins.

After international trade made a strong contribution to growth in the third quarter, it could penalize the economy in the current quarter, he said.

"If we do get a contraction in Q4, a Bank of Canada cut could come into question."

The central bank earlier this week reiterated its view that economic growth in the fourth quarter was likely to moderate and said the Canadian economy was evolving as expected.

The bank cut interest rates twice this year to offset the impact from cheaper oil and is seen standing pat until 2017, even as the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to begin raising rates later this month. [CA/POLL]

One bright spot of data for Canada was an acceleration in the pace of purchasing activity in November.

($1=$1.33 Canadian)

Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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