ATB Financial predicts first half of 2016 roughest yet in Alberta

EDMONTON -- Alberta's Crown-owned bank is predicting the first six months of this year will be the roughest yet in the current economic downturn.

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ATB Financial is forecasting the petroleum industry will continue to shed jobs, with Fort McMurray and Calgary taking the hardest hit.

Chief economist Todd Hirsch says weaker consumer demand will hurt housing prices and retail spending.

Hirsch says low oil prices are responsible for the gloomy outlook coupled with economic uncertainty in China, Europe and the Middle East.

ATB is predicting unemployment will peak around mid-year and that oil prices will not likely recover until late 2016.

Hirsch says while the oilpatch is taking a beating, other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, forestry and tourism are doing well, due in part to the weak Canadian dollar.



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