SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva

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BMO Blue Book: Stable Growth Continues In Manitoba's Diverse Economy

- Agriculture production hit historic levels in 2013

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA -- (Marketwired) -- 05/07/14 -- According to the BMO Blue Book released today by BMO Capital Markets Economics and BMO Commercial Banking, Manitoba's diverse economy continues to bring strength to the province.

Much like the U.S. Federal Reserve's Beige Book, the BMO Blue Book combines the expertise of BMO's economists with information on current business conditions provided to BMO's commercial bankers by local businesspeople.

"Manitoba's diverse economy has long supported a wide variety of commercial clients," said John MacAulay, Senior Vice President, Prairies and Central Canada, BMO Bank of Montreal. "The situation for Manitoba business owners remains generally positive, although we are starting to see a little more caution expressed compared to this time last year. However, the turnaround in the U.S. economy, coupled with lower Canadian dollar, is leading directly to growing sales and improved profitability in manufacturing, distribution, trucking and service sectors."

"Stability continues to be one of Manitoba's key economic strengths," said Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "Real GDP for the province is expected to hold at a 2.2 per cent pace this year - unchanged from 2013 - most likely due to a strong year for crops."

The province's agriculture sector enjoyed a record production in 2013, although not without its own set of challenges. Energy and mining also continue to see solid momentum in the province. "Oil production is still a small share of the overall economy, however it's still risen fourfold since the start of the 2000s, reaching 18 million barrels," Mr. Kavcic added.

Manufacturing - often a weak spot for the province - underwent a 0.4 per cent drop in 2013. "However, a stronger U.S. economy and the recent slide in the loonie should provide a boost to the manufacturing sector in the coming year," added Mr. Kavcic.

Mr. MacAulay noted that other major industries in Winnipeg continue to show strength, particularly insurance. Meanwhile, agriculture continues to perform well with lots of expansion, land acquisitions and rising land prices.

"BMO is armed with a highly-skilled team of experts that can make lending decisions at the local level to help its commercial clients boost productivity, expand into new markets and make strategic investment decisions that will help propel growth and drive success," Mr. MacAulay added.

The full BMO Blue Book can be downloaded at www.bmocm.com/economics.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services organization based in North America. The bank offers a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers. BMO Financial Group had total assets of $593 billion and more than 45,500 employees at January 31, 2014.

Internet: www.bmo.com Twitter: @BMOmedia

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