Canada Posts Surprise April Trade Deficit as Energy Exports Fall

Canada’s merchandise trade balance swung to an unexpected deficit in April as energy exports declined amid refinery shutdowns.

The deficit of C$638 million ($584 million) followed a revised surplus of C$766 million in March, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast a C$200 million surplus, based on the median of 19 forecasts.

The Bank of Canada will probably keep the benchmark interest rate at 1 percent in a decision at 10 a.m. today in Ottawa. Policy makers have said an increase in exports and business investment are needed to bring the economy to full output.

Exports dropped 1.8 percent to C$42.8 billion in April, led by an 11 percent decline in energy exports to C$10.7 billion. Part of the drop was due to refineries closing for maintenance, Statistics Canada said.

Imports rose 1.4 percent to a record C$43.5 billion, led by consumer goods, according to the agency.

The volume of exports declined 0.8 percent and import volumes rose 1.9 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. narrowed to C$4.3 billion in April from C$4.4 billion a month earlier. The deficit with countries other than the U.S. widened to C$4.9 billion, as shipments to the European Union dropped 23 percent. Exports make up about one-third of Canada’s economy, with about three quarters going to the U.S.

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