Newspaper article The Canadian Press

National Bank Sees Economic Conditions Improving in Central Canada in 2015

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

National Bank Sees Economic Conditions Improving in Central Canada in 2015

Article excerpt

National Bank earns $397 million in Q1

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MONTREAL - National Bank of Canada expects economic conditions will improve this year in Central Canada as consumers get some breathing room from lower interest rates and fuel prices.

"We estimate that reduced gasoline prices in 2015 at today's current level will be equivalent to a $5-billion tax cut for Quebec and Ontario consumers," CEO Louis Vachon said Wednesday after the bank released its first-quarter results.

Vachon said the labour market is improving, especially in Quebec, while a lower Canadian dollar and U.S. economic expansion are beginning to boost exports from the traditional manufacturing provinces.

"Overall, we believe that consumer spending, business investments, exports and a still elevated level of public infrastructure investments should positively impact (the) Quebec and Ontario economies," Vachon told analysts.

He said the bank has a "manageable" exposure in Canada's oil patch and rejected some news reports that raised concerns about Quebec's real estate market.

"What we see is actually the soft landing that a lot of people have predicted for Canada is actually happening in the Quebec real estate market," Vachon said, adding that prices in Montreal and Quebec City have been flat for three years.

The Montreal-based bank (TSX:NA) beat expectations in the first quarter as its net income attributable to shareholders grew two per cent to $397 million on strong growth in its financial markets segment. …

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