Monday, March 28, 2011

This and That

Strong oil, wheat prices buoy Alberta's economy - "A new survey suggests happy days are here again for Alberta's economy with crude oil and grains poised to be the hottest commodities in the coming year.

According to the report by Barclays Capital, investors are increasingly bullish on both oil and grain, with prices for both viewed as likely to continue to rise amid geopolitical uncertainty and weather challenges around the world.

"The fact of it is agriculture is a good news story today," said Richard Phillips, the head of the Grain Growers of Canada"

Good signs in agriculture are good signs for Alberta. Remember Don Campbell saying "Food, Fuel and Fertilizer will drive the western region"? You've seen potash highs and lows in Saskatchewan, oil prices regain to above $100 a barrel and now food - agriculture begin its accent. The job new job numbers are terrific too.

Totem builds on it's Canadian roots with sixth Edmonton store - "Before the new Edmonton Ellerslie Totem opened its doors for the first time Thursday, company officials and Royal Canadian Legion members raised a big Canadian flag outside the building supplies store.

It was a not-so-subtle reminder to customers that Totem Building Supplies and its corporate owner, Rona Inc., boast Canadian roots — unlike U.S. imports The Home Depot and the under-construction Lowe’s a few blocks north at South Edmonton Common."

I've posted about a few other stores opening up in the Edmonton area. Some come from the U.S.A. or even further abroad from Europe or Asia. But the one constant to note here is that Edmonton is again on the map for growth. Predictably more stable and spread out growth, but growth nonetheless.

TD forecasts banner year for Alberta in 2010 - "Alberta is expected to lead the country in Real GDP growth in 2012 after a strong 2011.

A report by TD Economics, released Wednesday, projects gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 3.2 per cent in Alberta in 2012, but only 3.2 per cent nationally.

For this year, TD Economics predicts 4.2-per-cent economic growth in Alberta, behind Newfoundland and Labrador at 4.7 per cent and Saskatchewan at 4.3 per cent, but ahead of the three-per-cent national forecast."

Oil will probably stay around the high $90's and step above the $100 mark until the political environment stabilizes in the middle east. Profitable oil (for both the U.S. buying and Canada exporting) is around $85 a barrel. Temporarily high priced oil ads gains, but doesn't help in the long term as it is too expensive for importers especially if the CDN dollar is higher. Hovering around the mid $90s for a few months creates a decent cushion for Alberta as long as we can get down a few dollars to the $80s.

Economic spring appears to have bloomed for Alberta - "Over the past six months, more than one-third of the new jobs created in Canada have been in Alberta, which is home to just over 10% of the country's population. This clearly indicates the Wild Rose province is starting to bloom once more following an extended economic winter. Across major industries, manufacturing has, by far accounted for most (+41.7%) of the new jobs added followed by health services (+25.5%), professional and business services (+18%), natural resources (+10.9%) and agriculture (+8.2%). Reflecting this strong pattern of employment growth, Alberta's unemployment rate fell to 5.7% in February, the second lowest in the country and well under the national average of 7.8%."

Tuesday morning CBC Radio announced that Flint Energy was hiring 1000 immediate positions for jobs with skilled and semi-skilled labour. You show up, you get job. Some of the jobs are in Red Deer and others in Sherwood park, just outside of Edmonton in the modular building site. I heard Mary MacGregor, the chief economist of Alberta speak last week. Mrs. MacGregor outlined the growth indicators showing 2013-2019 to have exceptional growth. Being an economist, these numbers were tempered that there are always unexpected events that can damper the best of economies (remember back to 2008?). Needless to say, the real job numbers are solid.