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BMO Blue Book: Improved Growth Expected in Quebec for 2014

- Stronger U.S. demand and a weaker Canadian dollar will be positive for exporters and manufacturers

MONTREAL, QUEBEC -- (Marketwired) -- 05/07/14 -- Quebec's economy is expected to pick up this year to 1.7 per cent, up from 1.1 per cent growth in 2013, according to the BMO Blue Book released today by BMO Capital Markets Economics and BMO Commercial Banking.

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.

"The economic climate in Quebec remains stable, and business owners across the province remain cautiously optimistic about the year ahead," said Francois Hudon, Senior Vice President, Quebec Division and Co-Head, North American Specialized Sales, BMO Bank of Montreal. "The majority of our customers tell us they are adapting their business models to the new realities of the market in order to maintain profitability."

Exports and manufacturing have been a drag on growth across the province, but momentum appears to be turning around. "The combination of stronger U.S. demand and a weaker Canadian dollar will be positive for these sectors," said Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "Politics have dominated the province in recent months. From an economic perspective, a majority government returns some political stability to Quebec, which should be positive for business confidence."

Mario Rigante, Regional Vice President, Commercial Banking, Montreal Metropolitan, BMO Bank of Montreal noted that 2013 was an eventful year for Montreal as well, marked by the fallout of the Charbonneau Commission and the election of a new mayor and municipal council. "However, the new year boasts major commercial and residential real estate investments in the downtown core, which will help reshape the city and provide a solid foundation for economic development."

Mr. Rigante noted that local manufacturers continue to face stiff competition - especially from Asia - while also having to deal with the fluctuating value of the Canadian dollar. The transport industry continues to do well, with the success due in part to the fact that operators are able to transfer the increased cost of fuel to their clients and are therefore better able to manage their long term costs.

In the Quebec region, Martin Beauchamp, Regional Vice President, Commercial Banking, Quebec, BMO Bank of Montreal noted that the bank is particularly interested in supporting growth in the healthcare and daycare sectors.

Mr. Rigante added that 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.

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.

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