*The merchandise trade deficit shrank to C$135 million ($98 million) from a revised C$1.08 billion in February, Statistics Canada said Thursday in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a deficit between C$550 million and C$1.8 billion, with a median of C$1 billion.
*Exports rose 3.8 percent to a record C$47 billion, rebounding from a 2.5 percent drop in February. Energy shipments climbed 7 percent to C$8.75 billion and consumer goods by 6.8 percent to C$6.12 billion.
*Imports rose for a fourth straight month in March, by 1.7 percent to C$47.1 billion.
The world’s 10th largest economy needs a sustained jolt from trade to move out of a funk stemming from a crash in the energy industry and growth that has relied heavily on indebted consumers. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said last month the recovery is weighed down by inconsistent exports and business investment held back by the threat of U.S. protectionism.
*Cold weather in the northeastern U.S. boosted Canada’s natural gas exports by 32 percent in March. The “other energy” category rose 64 percent, led by coal, as Cyclone Debbie disrupted production in Australia.
*The “other food products” grouping rose 12 percent to a record C$1.4 billion on sales of yellow peas and red lentils to India.
*The surplus with the U.S. narrowed to C$4 billion from C$4.5 billion. Record exports to non-U.S. nations narrowed the trade deficit for that group to C$4.1 billion from C$5.6 billion.
*The volume of exports advanced 2.5 percent and import volumes fell 0.2 percent, Statistics Canada said. Volume figures adjust for price changes and can be a better indicator of how trade contributes to economic growth.
*On a quarterly basis, the trade account worsened to a C$1.1 billion deficit between January and March after being roughly balanced in the prior three months.