WRAPUP 2-Hit by cheap oil, Canada's economy falls into recession

Tue Sep 1, 2015 1:10pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The Canadian economy shrank again in the second quarter, putting the country in recession for the first time since the financial crisis, with a plunge in oil prices spurring companies to chop business investment.

The confirmation on Tuesday of a modest recession will figure heavily into the election campaign as Canadians head to the polls Oct. 19 and poses a challenge to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is seeking a rare fourth consecutive term.

Still, there was a silver lining as growth picked up for the first time in six months in June, underscoring expectations the recession will be short-lived.

Harper was quick to downplay what some supporters and economists have dismissed as a "technical" recession, pointing to the upbeat June figures during a campaign stop. "The Canadian economy is back on track," he said.

But politicians from the opposition New Democrats and Liberals said the numbers were evidence Harper's economic policies were failing.

Economists mostly agreed the 0.5 percent pickup in June put Canada on good footing for a better third quarter.

"Despite the technical recession materializing, it does look like the Canadian economy is jumping back, is rebounding strongly in the third quarter," said Derek Burleton, deputy chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.   Continued...