OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada says companies' investment in equipment and hiring intentions for the next 12 months have tumbled to their lowest levels since the 2009 recession.
The central bank released its latest business outlook survey that suggests Canadian businesses see a darker road ahead as they continue to battle the bite of a commodity-price shock that has reached beyond the resource sector.
The results found companies' expectations for this year deteriorated with the price plunge being felt across most regions and industries.
The news immediately got some of the more bearish analysts talking.
The declines in hiring intentions "point to negative net job creation this year, a sign perhaps that the economy is on the verge of a full-blown recession," Capital Economics' David Madani wrote. Madani has been warning that the oil-led recession Canada experienced last year may not be over.
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The quarterly survey's interviews were conducted between mid-November and early December, before oil prices and the dollar slid even further.
Some exporters remain 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 companies need to import from outside Canada.
— The Canadian Press, with a file from The Huffington Post Canada