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'Canada’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in a decade in the first quarter, led by consumer spending and manufacturing, increasing pressure on the country’s central bank to raise interest rates tomorrow.'

'Consumer spending rose 1.1 percent in the first quarter from the fourth quarter, led by semi-durable goods such as clothing and footwear, Statistics Canada said. Investment in housing rose 5.4 percent, the fourth straight gain.'

The central bank 'cut the benchmark lending rate to 0.25 percent in April 2009, the lowest since the bank was founded in 1934.'

'Private companies led a 108,700 gain in jobs in April, the largest in records dating from 1976, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent.

Manufacturing rose at a 4.2 percent pace in the first quarter and construction increased 2.5 percent, Statistics Canada said today.

Fixed capital investment rose 2 percent in the first quarter, and businesses added C$8.1 billion to their inventories after reducing them by C$1.2 billion in the fourth quarter, the report said. '
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