Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 16:35 UK

Canadian economy in sharp decline

Bank of Canada
Canada has been hit by the global slowdown

Canada's economy contracted at the fastest rate since 1991 in the first three months of 2009, according to official figures.

The economy shrank by 5.4% on an annualised basis during the quarter after the economy shrank by 3.7% in the last quarter of 2008.

Despite being the worst result for 18 years, it was better than expected.

Canada has been hard hit by the global slowdown, with both its exports and imports falling.

"Lower spending in Canada and the United States, particularly business investment in plant and equipment, led to a sharp decline in Canada's exports and imports," said Statistics Canada, which issued the latest economic data.

Analysts had predicted a 6.6% drop in economic output.

"The only good news is that it will probably be the worst quarter in the cycle," said Don Drummond, chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

The Bank of Canada has already cut its benchmark interest rate to a historic low of 0.25% in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

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