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Ontario, B.C. economies to lead growth in 2010, think tank says

The economies of Ontario and British Columbia will shine brightest in 2010 while the rest of country is on track to see a more gradual rebound in growth, the Conference Board of Canada said Monday.

Driven by a recovering auto sector and stronger domestic economy, Ontario will “rise from the ashes” to share the top spot with British Columbia this year, the think tank said in its Spring 2010 provincial outlook.

Real Gross Domestic Product in both provinces is expected to soar by 3.8% this year, whereas gains in the rest of the country will be more modest, ranging between 1.8% and 3.5%.

A homegrown recovery is already underway in Ontario, where average home prices have surpassed pre-recession levels and employment has risen since the second half of 2009, the Conference Board said.

B.C. continues to bathe in the golden afterglow of the Olympics and recovery in the forestry, manufacturing and construction sectors is well underway.

However, with one-time Olympic stimulus fading and the housing market expected to ease, the province’s GDP growth will moderate to 2.8% in 2011, it said.

Alberta will benefit from a revival in oil patch drilling activity while Saskatchewan’s potash industry is slowly recuperating.

Manitoba will reap the benefits of a mini-boom in nickel, copper and gold mining and Quebec’s recovery will be stronger than first anticipated thanks to growing consumer confidence.

Approximately $800 million in government stimulus cash for infrastructure projects will prop up Nova Scotia and a host of construction projects will keep Newfoundland and Labrador afloat until a ramp up in offshore oil production kicks in. The Maritime province is expected to lead economic growth with a whopping 4.5% surge in GDP in 2011.

New Brunswick is expected to be the country’s weakest performer as a large drop in business investment and a slow-to-recover manufacturing sector weigh on growth.

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