Oil Exports Boost Canada's Second Straight Monthly Trade Surplus

08 February, 2017, 00:52 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • Image The Canadian Press

The C$923 million ($699 million) surplus announced by Statistics Canada on Tuesday exceeded analysts' forecasts of a C$350 million positive balance.

Feb 7 Canada posted a second consecutive monthly trade surplus for the first time in more than two years in December, but booming oil exports obscured weakness in some key sectors.

Jennifer Lee, a senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, said the monthly trade figures have taken on greater significance as of late.

The sharp turnaround in the Canadian fourth-quarter trade data and move into surplus will continue to support near-term confidence in the trade outlook and does not suggest that the strong Canadian dollar outside the USA market is causing major competitiveness problems.

The back-to-back surpluses in November and December a year ago was the first such trade balance for Canada's worldwide trade since August and September of 2014, Reuters has calculated. Energy product exports climbed 15.9 per cent to $8.5 billion. Volumes grew by 0.4 per cent.

Imports increased 1.0 percent on higher imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment as well as metal products.

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Detailed within the report, the domestic market was a "prime" source of new business, whilst exports reported a modest increase. Manufacturers have responded with an increase in selling prices, which may in turn begin to drive consumer price inflation.

One area of concern remains non-energy exports, which were down 2.1 percent in December.

In volume terms, exports fell 1.4% in December, while import volumes gained 0.4%.

"This gives us good momentum going into 2017", he said.

CIBC economist Nick Exarhos said the overall trend in real exports is still stuck in a range and he has concerns that protectionist policies in the USA have the potential to slow, or even derail a recovery in manufacturing investment.

The underlying results-which also suggested a drop in export. Imports, meanwhile, edged down 0.1 per cent to $547.2 billion.

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