Canada’s trade balance swung to a surplus of $710-million in September, erasing August’s deficit, as a bounce-back in the auto sector fuelled solid gains in exports.
Economists had anticipated a small deficit in the $300-million range.
August’s deficit was revised down to $463-million from the originally reported $610-million. July’s surplus was revised to $2.0-billion from $2.2-billion.
“The Canadian trade report was much better than expected, not just on the headline but also in the details, with export gains observed in most sectors,” said Krishen Rangasamy, senior economist at National Bank of Canada, in a research note. “The resurgent U.S. economy, coupled with past Canadian dollar depreciation, are clearly helping boost the export sector.”
Exports rose 1.1 per cent in September, despite lower prices for commodity shipments. On a volume basis (excluding price fluctuations), exports were up 1.6 per cent, while prices fell 0.4 per cent. Exports of motor vehicles and parts jumped 6 per cent, rebounding from an 11.5-per-cent slump in August, marked by summer maintenance shutdowns.
Exports to the United States, which accounts for about three-quarters of Canadian exports, rose 0.8 per cent.
Imports fell 1.5 per cent, reversing a strong August, as volumes dropped 1 per cent and prices declined 0.6 per cent. Much of the declines centred on energy products, which tumbled 19.4 per cent on lower prices and volumes, but Statscan attributed the sharp decline to maintenance shutdowns at Canadian refineries.