HIGHLIGHTS-Bank of Canada's Carney speaks in London, Ontario
Feb 25 (Reuters) - Below are key quotes from an appearance by Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney:
ON BANK OF CANADA GROWTH EXPECTATIONS:
"The Bank's forecast, if you look at it on a like-for-like basis, relative to consensus ... if you look at when our forecast came out, versus where consensus was, we're slightly above, we're about 0.3 above, on average over last year on growth ... if I had to pick one element, which explains that, I would say the external side, it's the export side ... the export performance has been lower on average than we had expected. Now that's not the whole story. There's a few other elements there. But if I wanted to restrict it down one to thing, I would do there."
ON EXPORT AND BUSINESS GROWTH
"We saw ... in the second half of the year last year particularly weak export growth ... so there's still this competitiveness element there."
"As (housing) growth is coming off ... it needs to be replaced. And the pickup needs to come from business investment. We see good intentions. There's good balance sheets, we're seeing some signs on the corporate borrowing side, some of the global uncertainty has come down, so we should see some activity there. So we have expectations of solid business investment (and) we stick by those. Maybe a little tougher is on the export side, where we haven't seen that pickup there."
ON THE STRENGTH OF THE CANADIAN DOLLAR
"The (Canadian) dollar has been persistently strong for some time and we have seen challenges on the export side, consistent underperformance ... but we don't have a view that you depreciate yourself to prosperity and we're not looking at any target here. Building up the productive base of the country is what continues to be required, which is another reason why that pick up in investment is important."
ON INTEREST RATES OUTLOOK
"The view of the governing council, the Bank, in our most recent decision was that given that the direction of developments in the housing markets and given that there was some more slack in the economy, that the need for - there's still ultimately a need for some withdrawal of monetary policy stimulus: interest rates are one percent, we are a very well functioning financial system - but the prospect of that was less imminent. And obviously we stand by that assessment."
ON HOUSING AND HOUSEHOLD DEBT
"We could be on the cusp of stabilization of the household debt burden of Canadians. In other words it's going to stop rising, and that obviously is welcome and something that we have been focused on."
"As a whole, we are encouraged by developments and it increases the prospect of a more sustainable evolution of housing, household debt in Canada and that is positive for medium-term growth prospects in this country."
ON WEAKNESS IN RECENT DATA
"In general, if you look at the risks to the outlook that we had outlined in the MPR (Monetary Policy Report), the positive and negative risks around the outlook, to inflation and output in Canada, on the output side in the very near-term more of the elements of the downside risks have materialized than the upside risk."
"Inflation is pretty much tracking in line with expectations at this stage. I don't want to overemphasize shorter-term data, but there is a bit of that bias and I would say that, particularly around the fourth quarter of 2012, we'll find out shortly, but it might be slightly softer than we had forecast."
ON CANADIAN HOUSEHOLD DEBT
"What we're seeing in the Canadian economy is intended and welcome because we have obviously been concerned - the collective we - have been concerned about the pace of household debt growth. So we're seeing that come down as a result of smart decisions by consumers, households first and foremost, but also a series of measures taken by the government, by OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) and to a lesser extent, the bias of the interest rate policy of the Bank of Canada."
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