Hiring intentions tumble to lowest levels since recession: Bank of Canada

OTTAWA -- The hiring and investment intentions of Canadian companies have fallen to their lowest levels since the 2009 recession, a new survey has found.

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The country's businesses see a darker road in 2016 as firms continue to battle the bite of a commodity-price shock that has reached beyond the resource sector, according to the Bank of Canada's latest business outlook survey released Friday.

Companies' investment in equipment and hiring intentions for the next 12 months tumbled to their lowest levels since the 2009 recession, the findings say.

Fewer firms, the poll found, expected to boost their staff levels over that period, while plans to cut employees were more widespread -- and not just those in commodity-producing sectors and regions.

"The low-commodity-price environment poses significant challenges for many businesses," said the central bank's quarterly report.

"The negative effects of the oil-price shock are also increasingly spreading beyond the energy-producing regions and sectors.

"For example, many businesses across the energy supply chain continue to struggle as they adjust to an environment of weak demand."

The survey's interviews were conducted between mid-November and early December, before oil prices and the dollar slid even further.

Some exporters, however, remained optimistic their sales will benefit from strengthening foreign demand over the coming year, particularly amid widespread expectations of growth in the U.S. economy.

The questionnaire also found that some firms believe the lower dollar will boost foreign sales and tourism-related business. But at the same time, the cheaper loonie hikes up the costs of products and services that companies need to import from outside Canada.

The Bank of Canada also released the results of its latest senior loan officer survey, which focuses on business-lending practices over the final three months of last year.

It found that overall lending conditions had become more difficult for firms during the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, overall demand for credit was roughly unchanged.


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