Canada posted a trade deficit for February, defying the expectations of economists who had predicted a surplus.

Statistics Canada says the country ran a $972 million trade deficit for the month as exports fell and imports edged higher.

Economists had expected a surplus of $500 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

The weaker-than-expected data for February runs counter to the robust economic results in the first month of the year.

“After a huge January for the Canadian economy, it looks as though we could be in for some payback in the February data,” wrote Benjamin Reitzes, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

“Even so, this report is no reason to turn downbeat on Canada, with momentum in so many indicators pointing to strong momentum to start 2017.”

Exports in February slipped 2.4 per cent to $45.3 billion after reaching a record high in January. The decline included a 10.6 per cent drop in farm, fishing and intermediate food products as well as a 15.2 per cent fall in the export of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts.

Imports gained 0.6 per cent to $46.3 billion, with motor vehicles and parts rising 1.8 per cent to $9.1 billion — the highest that’s been since the record high set last August.

Canada’s trade surplus with the United States increased to $4.5 billion in February from $4.4 billion in January. The country’s trade deficit with countries other than the U.S. grew to $5.4 billion for February from $4.0 billion the month before.