Canada economy roars back to life in Q4

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s economic recovery gathered considerable momentum in the final quarter of 2009, beating market expectations to grow at a 5.0 percent annualized rate on strong consumer spending and exports, Statistics Canada said on Monday.

But the fourth-quarter revival -- the strongest growth since 2000 -- was not enough to offset the impact of a grueling recession which caused gross domestic product to shrink 2.6 percent overall in 2009 compared with 2008.

Statscan data showed business investment declined sharply in the fourth quarter, and was only partially offset by the effects of government stimulus spending.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected 4.1 percent annualized growth in the fourth quarter. Statscan revised upward its third-quarter growth figure to 0.9 percent from 0.4 percent on an annualized basis.

When compared with the third quarter, GDP expanded 1.2 percent, the biggest increase since the third quarter of 2000. In the month of December, the economy grew 0.6 percent from November for the fourth straight monthly advance.

Exports were the biggest contributor to quarterly growth, jumping 3.7 percent in the quarter led by autos, industrial goods and energy products. Consumer spending continued to grow at the same 0.9 percent pace as in the third quarter and investment in new housing posted its first quarterly gain since 2007.

Reporting by Louise Egan, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama