Imports and exports hit record highs in latest sign of strengthening economy
OTTAWA — Canada’s imports and exports both reached record highs in May, the latest sign of strength in the economy ahead of expectations that the central bank may be days away from raising its interest rate target.
The trade deficit doubled to $1.1 billion in May from a $552-million deficit the month before, though that was fuelled by the import of five new airliners, Statistics Canada said Thursday. Economists had expected a deficit for May of $530 million, according to Thomson Reuters.
“There is a lot of noise to filter through in today’s trade report but we think the message on exports is ultimately positive,” Royal Bank economist Josh Nye wrote in a report.
Imports rose 2.4 per cent to $49.8 billion in May, led by a 45.9 per cent increase in the aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts category due to the new airliners. Exports climbed 1.3 per cent to $48.7 billion, buoyed by shipments of unwrought gold to the United Kingdom.
Exports of energy products including crude oil fell 9.0 per cent to $8.0 billion as both prices and volumes declined. Excluding energy products, exports rose 3.6 per cent.
Nye called it a “solid increase” in non-energy exports for May and noted that they are now up relative to a year ago.
“A price-related decline in oil exports belies what has been a fairly strong increase in energy export volumes year-to-date,” Nye said.
“That supports the Bank of Canada’s view that adjustment to lower oil prices is now largely complete.”