(Adds details from release, rise in oil and gas support services)
OTTAWA, July 31 (Reuters) - The Canadian economy shrank for the fifth consecutive month in May, by 0.2 percent from April, strengthening the probability that the country was in recession in the first half of the year, according to Statistics Canada data released on Friday.
Economists had said that even if there had been no change in gross domestic product for May, which is what they had forecast, it would have required extraordinarily strong growth in June to avoid a second quarterly fall in GDP.
The Canadian economy is estimated to have shrunk by an annualized 0.6 percent in the first quarter because of the oil price crash. U.S. GDP, in contrast, rose by 0.6 percent in the first quarter and 2.3 percent in the second.
Canada’s fall in May was led by manufacturing (-1.7 percent) and mining and oil and gas extraction (-0.7 percent). Goods-producing industries fell 0.6 percent and services 0.1 percent. Rises were seen in construction, the agriculture and forestry sector, retail, and accommodation and food services.
One bright spot on the energy front was that though there was less production, support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction advanced 2.8 percent, after rising 9.6 percent in April, with both drilling and rigging services increasing. (Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)