Canadian business surveys show rising confidence

Wed Apr 6, 2011 12:30pm EDT
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By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO (Reuters) - A pair of business sentiment surveys for March showed growing confidence in the Canadian economy on Wednesday, as purchasing activity soared and small business optimism held steady.

Purchasing activity rose to 73.2 last month from 70.8 in February, according to the Ivey Purchasing Managers Index, a joint project of the Purchasing Management Association of Canada and the Richard Ivey School of Business.

The index, which is broadly similar to that of the U.S. Institute for Supply Management, was well above the median view of 62 expected by economists in Reuters survey.

"This outcome is stronger than the CFIB small business survey earlier today, but is more business survey evidence of a speed up in Canadian economic activity," said Jonathan Basile director of economics at Credit Suisse.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Business Barometer Index was at 69.2 in March, little changed from February's 69.4. The index has indicated a "generally upbeat" mood since December.

A reading above 50 is the critical level for both surveys. It indicates expansion for the Ivey report, while it shows greater optimism by small business owners in the CFIB index.

Both reports come on the heels of the Bank of Canada's first-quarter business outlook survey on Monday, which showed business leaders expect annual inflation between 2 percent and 3 percent over the next two years.

The central bank's survey also showed companies remained upbeat in the first quarter about the economic outlook, but were slightly less bullish on future sales and investment intentions compared with the fourth quarter.   Continued...