Canadian exports hit a record high in June, cutting the country's trade deficit to its lowest in 17 months, although US metals tariffs slashed shipments of steel, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
"The widening in the trade deficit in June, after three consecutive months of narrowing, suggests that some of the transitory factors that drove those trends are starting to fade", Barclays said in a note to clients on Friday.
Those boosts to the trade balance more than overcame declines in exports of steel and aluminum to the USA of 37 per cent 7 per cent respectively.
Shortly before the numbers were released, Beijing warned it was ready to impose new tariffs on $60 billion in American products, responding to Trump's plans to jack up the punitive duties on the next $200 billion in Chinese goods to be targeted.
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"It's unclear, however, if the overall export surge can be sustained".
Unlike the overall data, the figures for steel and aluminum were not adjusted for seasonality.
Statscan noted that exports to the US of Canadian steel products subject to the new tariffs plunged 37 per cent in June, after having surged 40 per cent over the prior three months. The report raised expectations for a Bank of Canada rate increase in September to 39 per cent, from 32 per cent yesterday and 12 per cent a fortnight ago.
Canada's exports rose 4.1 per cent to $50.7 billion in June, surpassing for the first time the $50 billion mark, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
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The improvement also comes despite rising trade hostilities with the United States, by far Canada's biggest trading partner, which imposed tariffs of 25 per cent on Canadian steel and 10 per cent on aluminum at the beginning of June, while threatening to bring in levies against Canadian autos and parts.
National Bank of Canada economist Kyle Dahms suggested that US tariff threats may be temporarily fuelling USA demand for some Canadian goods. They were boosted by imports of consumer goods and crude oil. Exports of passenger cars and light trucks were up 5 per cent in the month.
Total exports rose 9.2 per cent in June compared to the same month a year ago.
A dip in auto exports and rising oil prices in June drove the increase in the gap between U.S. imports and exports, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Total imports were up 4.2 per cent compared with June 2017. There were decreases in imports of computers and telecommunications equipment. Higher shipments of soybeans helped bring the trade deficit in May to its lowest monthly level since late 2016 and, due to seasonal adjustments, provided an outsize boost to second-quarter gross domestic product.
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