Canada composite leading indicator rises 0.2 pct in December

Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:59am EST
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* Index rises 0.2 pct in December, same as in Nov.

* Housing index falls; other components flat or up

OTTAWA Jan 29 (Reuters) - Canada's composite leading indicator rose 0.2 percent in December, matching the rise in the previous two months, but it showed strength across a broader range of sectors, a report by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute said on Tuesday.

The financial sector remained a source of growth in December, commodity prices held steady, and the manufacturing sector rebounded slightly from November, the private think tank said.

The housing index was the only one of 10 components to fall, down for the sixth straight month, but less sharply than in November.

"The gradual improvement in the leading index - from no growth in July to diffuse gains by year-end - points to a pick-up in economic growth as 2013 unfolds," said Philip Cross, research coordinator at the institute and the former chief economic analyst at the state agency, Statistics Canada.

Cross developed a modified version of the composite leading indicator that was previously published by Statscan but which the agency discontinued in May 2012. The Macdonald-Laurier Institute's first release of the revamped indicator was in October of last year.

Macdonald-Laurier says that on average the new index signals recessions with a lead time of 7.4 months.