Canada recorded the smallest merchandise trade deficit in almost a year in January on higher exports of crude oil and bitumen.
The deficit of C$237 million ($230 million) followed a revised December shortfall of C$332 million, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the deficit would be C$600 million, based on the median of 20 forecasts.
The Bank of Canada is relying in part on exports to drive economic growth this year as policy makers say record consumer debt levels will slow housing investment. Policy makers yesterday softened language on the need to raise interest rates, saying that while the global recovery is proceeding as expected, the domestic economy has “material excess capacity.”
Exports rose 2.1 percent to C$39.1 billion in January, led by a 6.7 percent increase in energy to C$9.15 billion. Imports rose 1.9 percent to C$39.3 billion, Statistics Canada said.
The volume of exports advanced 0.9 percent and import volumes rose 1.8 percent, Statistics Canada said. Volume figures adjust for price changes and can be a better indicator of how trade contributes to economic growth.
The surplus with the U.S. widened to C$4.25 billion in January from C$4.03 billion a month earlier.
Exports make up about one-third of Canada’s economy, with about 75 percent of the shipments going to the U.S.
Statistics Canada revised its estimate of December’s trade deficit to C$332 million from C$901 million after receiving updated data on energy shipments.
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