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Cdn economy gets boost in second quarter from big improvement in trade

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OTTAWA - Canada racked up a solid trade surplus during June as exports hit a record level due to a strong showing from the energy sector.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday that Canada's trade surplus with the rest of the world came in at $1.9 billion, up from a revised $576 million in May, and exceeding the $150 million deficit that economists had generally expected.

"The big swing back to a trade surplus, the fourth in the past five months, is certainly welcome news and marks the second straight quarterly surplus following two years of deficits," said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Benjamin Reitzes.

"It looks as though trade is going to add more to (economic) growth in the second quarter than previously expected."

The agency reported that merchandise exports rose 1.1 per cent in June to a record high of $45.2 billion.

Strong performers included the energy sector, as exports of energy products ran up 2.5 per cent to $11.9 billion. Crude oil and crude bitumen increased 2.8 per cent to a record high of $8.9 billion, as prices rose 2.2 per cent.

The mining sector was also a major contributor to the trade surplus, while exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products increased 9.7 per cent to $4.8 billion as volumes rose 10.2 per cent.

Exports of consumer goods rose 8.3 per cent to $5.1 billion on higher volumes.

The trade picture improvement came despite a disappointing showing in the auto sector.

Exports of motor vehicles and parts fell 6.3 per cent to $6.2 billion in June after recording four consecutive monthly gains.

"The main factor behind the decrease in June was passenger cars and light trucks, which fell 8.8 per cent to $4.1 billion," Statistics Canada said.

Imports fell 1.8 per cent during June.

Imports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals fell 25.3 per cent to $752 million.

There were also declines in electronics, down 4.5 per cent and auto imports, which fell 2.5 per cent to $7.6 billion.

Exports to the United States remained unchanged at $34.1 billion in June, while imports were up 1.5 per cent to $29.1 billion — a record high.

Exports to countries other than the United States grew 4.8 per cent to $11.1 billion, led by the European Union, while imports fell 7.8 per cent to $14.3 billion.

The blowout trade number also had a positive effect on the Canadian dollar, which had been lower early Wednesday morning with traders avoiding risk amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. But the loonie later rose 0.13 of a cent to 91.37 cents after closing Tuesday at a three-month low.

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