WRAPUP 3-Canada trims growth outlook despite February jobs surge

Fri Mar 8, 2013 2:04pm EST
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* Hefty job gains signals possible Q1 growth rebound

* Six-month average shows 29,000 net new jobs per month

* Housing starts climb in Feb but cooling trend persists

* Fourth-quarter productivity up 0.1 pct

By Louise Egan

OTTAWA, March 8 (Reuters) - The Canadian government cut its forecast for 2013 economic growth on Friday, based on private sector estimates, even as new employment data for February hinted at a comeback after the two weakest quarters since the 2008-09 recession.

The weaker, near-term outlook, while expected, is another challenge for the Conservative government, which is grappling with a significant hit to revenues as it puts the final touches on its budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The numbers will form the basis for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's fiscal projections in the next budget, expected before the end of March.   Continued...