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New leading indicator sees Canada averting downturn in 2012

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* New private index replaces one canceled by StatisticsCanada

* August indicator +0.1 pct; previous months +0.2 pct * New indicator predicts recessions with 7.4-month lead time

OTTAWA, Oct 11 (Reuters) - A new Canadian composite leadingindicator, released for the first time on Thursday, showed arise of 0.1 percent in August and suggested Canada will avoid arecession this year.

It was the inaugural launch of the indicator by theprivate-sector Macdonald-Laurier Institute, which is trying tofill a void left by the cancellation by the government agencyStatistics Canada of its composite leading indicator in May.

Macdonald-Laurier changed the composition of the index toenable it to predict economic performance further out, and builta series of historic data using the new criteria. It showsconsecutive gains of 0.2 percent for the previous four months.

"The slow, steady growth of the index suggests the Canadianeconomy will avert a downturn in 2012, despite the recessiongripping much of Europe and slower growth in the United Statesand Asia," a statement said.

The think tank said that on average the new index signalsrecessions with a lead time of 7.4 months.

The next release of the indicator is on Oct. 30.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

((randall.palmer@thomsonreuters.com)(+1-613-235-6745)(Reuters

Messaging: randall.palmer.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: CANADA ECONOMY/LEADING