Canada Posted Unexpected Trade Deficit in April

Canada posted an unexpected trade deficit in April as exports fell the most in three months amid waning demand for the country’s commodities and industrial goods.

Canada recorded a deficit of C$179 million ($163 million) during the month, after a revised surplus of C$1.01 billion in March, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. The balance was forecast as a surplus narrowing to C$1 billion from an initially reported C$1.11 billion in March, according to the median response of 21 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The world’s eighth-largest economy has been shrinking in the face of a global slump that has sapped orders for Canada’s lumber, automobiles and metals. Canadian exporters also are being hit by a strengthening currency that is making their goods more expensive in the U.S., the country’s biggest market.

Canada’s economy contracted at a 5.4 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the fastest pace since 1991, as the country’s businesses scaled back spending. The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark lending rate at a record 0.25 percent on June 4, and renewed a commitment to keep it there until June 2010.

Exports dropped 5.1 percent to C$30.8 billion in April, led by falling shipments of energy products such as natural gas. The decline was due mainly to a 3.2 percent drop in prices, while volumes fell 1.9 percent.

Industrial goods and materials exports fell 9.7 percent on fewer sales of fertilizers and metals such as aluminum. Shipments of machinery and equipment, the largest export component, dropped 7 percent on fewer sales of aircraft and other transport equipment. Automotive exports increased 2.7 percent.

Imports fell 1.5 percent in April to C$31 billion on falling trade in industrial goods, the statistics agency said.

Canada’s trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed to C$2.78 billion in April, from C$3.46 billion in March, the agency said.

Canada Posted Unexpected Trade Deficit in April, Bloomberg
6/10/2009 9:12:45 AM