Canadian business sentiment drops from high levels: central bank survey

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OTTAWA — A new Bank of Canada survey says business sentiment has fallen from elevated levels, with companies underlining uncertainty around global trade, the housing sector and the energy industry.

The central bank’s measure for business sentiment dropped from its near-record heights last year into negative territory for the first time since the third quarter of 2016.

The more-upbeat reading in the previous report was based on a November poll taken as oil prices started to decline.

The latest survey — conducted in late February and early March — says companies’ expectations for sales remained positive, but were softer than a few months ago with less optimism about future demand.

Outside of the energy-dependent Prairies, investment and hiring intentions remained resilient particularly in the services sector.

The survey also suggested previous concerns about labour shortages have eased although firms still say it was more challenging to find workers than it was 12 months earlier.

The central bank interviewed around 100 senior managers for the quarterly survey.

The Canadian Press