Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO – Here are five things to look for in Canadian business this week:

— The price of oil. Often a big factor in determining direction on the Toronto Stock Exchange, oil has been on a wild ride recently. Five straight winning sessions, prompted among other things by renewed tensions in the Middle East, saw it top the $50-a-barrel mark last week before falling back $2.56 to US$48.87 on Friday.

— January GDP data. Statistics Canada issues its report on gross domestic product for January on Tuesday. The consensus estimate of economists is that it will show GDP declined 0.2 per cent in January, according to Thomson Reuters. Regardless of the results, the numbers will likely fuel further debate on whether Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz will move on the overnight interest rate next month.

— Bank of Montreal annual meeting. The Bank of Montreal holds is annual meeting on Tuesday. The bank reported last month that its first-quarter profit was down compared with a year ago. BMO chief executive Bill Downe said at the time that the “current operating environment poses both challenges and opportunities.”

— Auto sales. Automakers are expected to report their March sales results this week. Canadians continued the flock to auto dealerships last month and helped push sales to their best February since 2008, with truck sales leading the way.

— Trade data. Statistics Canada reports international merchandise trade results for February on Thursday. Economists expect the country to have posted a trade deficit of $1.8 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. Canada’s trade numbers have taken a hit in recent months, due in larger part to the sharp drop in oil prices from highs of US$107 a barrel last summer.