Canada posts biggest trade surplus in 10 years as auto shipments recover

Exports jumped 6.4%

  
A tugboat heads out into the harbour beside the container port in Vancouver, British Columbia June 8, 2012.

A tugboat heads out into the harbour beside the container port in Vancouver, British Columbia June 8, 2012.

REUTERS/Andy Clark

OTTAWA- Canada's imports and exports jumped sharply to new record highs in October, driven by two-way trade in motor vehicles and parts, official data showed on Tuesday, with the country posting its largest trade surplus in nearly a decade.

Exports jumped by 6.4%, mostly on motor vehicles and parts, along with record energy exports, Statistics Canada said. Canada's trade surplus with the world rose to C$2.09 billion ($1.65 billion) in October, the biggest since the C$2.12 billion seen in December 2011.

"This is, by anybody's assessment, a blockbuster month," said Peter Hall, chief economist at Export Development Canada, adding that the auto sector will continue to drive momentum as supply chain bottlenecks ease.

The picture will be far more grim when November's data is released next month, said Hall, pointing to flooding in British Columbia that shut down transport in and out of a key Canadian port in the city of Vancouver.

"If this month is an early Christmas gift, then next month is going to be the Grinch," Hall said.

Statscan said that 8.7% of Canada's total trade goes through British Columbia, with nearly half of all marine exports leaving via the Pacific coast province.

Still, economists said October's data shows the Canadian economy had strong momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

Exports hit C$56.18 billion in October, with combined gains in shipments of motor vehicles and parts and energy products accounting for almost 80% of total growth.

"While stoppages related to semiconductor chip shortages still affected Canadian assembly plants in October, they were less significant than those that occurred in September," Statscan said in a commentary.

The improving supply of chips also helped push imports up by 5.3% to hit C$54.09 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had on average forecast a surplus of C$2.00 billion in October.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.6% higher at 1.2672 to the greenback, or 78.91 U.S. cents.

(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Fergal Smith in Toronto Editing by Will Dunham, Raissa Kasolowsky and Bernadette Baum) ((julie.gordon@thomsonreuters.com; 343-961-4020;))


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