UPDATE 1-Canada says private economists see 2015 growth of about 2 pct

Thu Apr 9, 2015 5:21pm EDT
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(Adds background, quotes from Oliver and economist)

By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA, April 9 (Reuters) - Private sector economists estimate that Canada's economy will grow at about 2 percent this year and will pick up after that, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said on Thursday.

An average of economists' growth forecasts is used as a basis for fiscal planning by the Canadian government. The outlook is usually detailed in the federal budget, which will be released on April 21.

The outlook matched a Reuters survey released on Wednesday that showed economists consulted by the government ahead of budget were expecting a median 2 percent growth this year as the price of oil stabilizes.

The budget is normally released in February or March before the end of the fiscal year, but Oliver delayed the 2015-2016 budget due to the volatility in the price of oil, a major export for Canada. The government has vowed it will be a balanced budget after seven years of deficits.

"Canada is feeling the effects of low oil prices, both on the economy and on the revenue streams governments rely on," Oliver told reporters.

"Nevertheless, economists estimate that Canada's economy will expand by about 2 percent this year and that growth will pick up thereafter."

Still, the 2015 forecast marks a step down from the 2.6 percent growth economists were expecting in the fall fiscal update released in November.   Continued...