Jitters over oil, stocks, home prices rattle Canadian consumers

WATCH: Kevin Sorenson, Minister of State (Finance) and Member of Parliament for Crowfoot, told Global News on Tuesday that the government is watching oil prices fall very closely amidst worries lower prices could destabilize the economy.

Falling oil prices coupled with headlines warning of impending doom for everything from stocks to home prices are rattling consumer confidence.

A national index of sentiment among households released Tuesday said the mood among Canadians is down for the second month in a row – and fifth time in six months – “driven by a slew of disappointing economic data.”

The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence fell by 3.9 points to a reading of 84, as opinions about the current and future state of Canadians’ personal finances turned more negative, while intentions on future purchasing decisions also tumbled.

Opinion on the job market – which has been unexpectedly buoyed by a strong showing in September – “improved marginally,” the Ottawa-based researcher said.

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INFOGRAPHIC: A province-by-province breakdown of September’s job surge

More respondents said their financial position had deteriorated in the last six months, while more also said they expect their position in six months to be worse.

Not surprisingly, fewer Canadians in the survey said now was a good time to make a significant purchase, such as a home or vehicle. Just over 41 per cent said it was, or 4.3 percentage points below the Conference Board’s previous monthly survey.

Those who said it was a bad time for such a big purchase jumped 3.3 points to 43.6 per cent.

MORE: Canadians about to hit brakes on red-hot auto boom

Regional split

The Conference Board survey, taken between Oct. 2 and Oct. 11, noted that significant differences in sentiment exist between different areas of the country.

“Index values in Western Canada continue to easily outpace those in the rest of the country,” Todd Crawford, senior economist at the board, said.

Still, the west wasn’t immune to the decline in optimism this month. “Four of the five regions [in the survey] registered significant declines,” Crawford said.
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The Prairies registered the largest decrease in confidence in the survey, falling from a “high level.”

Oil prices have been on sharp decline in recent weeks, denting expectations in the resource-dependent region.

MORE: Oil just slipped below $80 — and is expected to fall further

Ontario was the only region not to see a decline in consumer sentiment, the third monthly increase for the country’s biggest province.

Job creation expectations among Ontario households “remain pessimistic” while recent “market volatility” may not yet be fully reflected in consumer sentiment, Crawford said.

Here’s a look at each province’s jobless rate and number of jobs created (or lost) in September:

Province by province breakdown of job gains/losses in September. Neil Joyes/Global News



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