WRAPUP 1-New set of Canada data shows spotty recovery

* Building permits fall 4.9 pct in Jan

* Ivey purchasing managers index up, but less than thought

* Consumer confidence up, caution remains about big buys

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO, March 4 (BestGrowthStock) – Canadian building permits and
purchasing data came in weaker than expected on Thursday, while
consumer confidence edged higher, suggesting the country’s road
to recovery remains spotted with bumps.

The data had little impact on the Canadian dollar and
government bond markets, which were looking past the secondary
economic figures to the presentation of the Canadian federal
budget later in the day and to Friday’s U.S. nonfarm payrolls
report.

The value of Canadian building permits fell 4.9 percent in
January from December 2009 due to a 21 percent drop in the
issue of nonresidential building permits, Statistics Canada
said. Market analysts, on average, had expected a 0.9 percent
increase in January over December. [ID:nN0423252]

But the report also showed the value of permits in the
residential sector increased by 4.1 percent, indicating that
housing is still a key cog in the recovery wheel.

“To be certain, the number will disappoint expectations,
but the fact that the residential category continues to perform
decently is a balm of sorts,” said Stewart Hall, economist at
HSBC Securities.

The Ivey Purchasing Managers Index showed activity rose to
51.9 in February from 50.8 in January, but that was well below
expectations of 57 for the month. [ID:nTAR001651]

A reading of 50.0 indicates that activity remained flat
from the preceding month, while a higher reading indicates an
increase and a lower reading reflects a slowing or decrease.

The employment component of the index slumped to 41.3 in
February from 48.4 in January, a bearish figure ahead of next
week’s Canadian jobs data.

Shortly after noon on Thursday, the Canadian dollar held
near six-week highs at C$1.0313 to the U.S. dollar, or 96.96
U.S. cents. Government bonds were moderately lower across the
curve.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE UP

Separately, a poll released on Thursday showed an index of
Canadian consumer confidence increased to 89.0 in February from
85.5 in November.

The Harris/Decima-Investor’s Group Measure of Consumer
Confidence also showed a third of Canadians anticipate better
times ahead for the economy and for their finances a year from
now.

“Optimism is returning, as is consumer confidence, but the
crisis may have instilled a little more caution around
spending,” said Doug Anderson, senior vice-president at
Harris/Decima.

Half of respondents said they believed that now is a good
time to make a major purchase, while 31 percent viewed it as a
bad time to make such a purchase, roughly the same levels as in
Harris/Decima’s August and November surveys.

The poll is based on just over 2,000 telephone interviews
between Feb. 18 and Feb. 28, with a margin of error of 2.2
percent, 19 times out of 20.

Stock Market Today

($1=$1.03 Canadian)
(Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway)

WRAPUP 1-New set of Canada data shows spotty recovery