Warehouse scene

Canada posted a merchandise trade deficit of $312 million in December, the first monthly trade deficit since July.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday the result compared with a revised surplus of $1.1 billion in November. The initial reading for November released last month had shown a $1.6-billion surplus.

“The merchandise trade balance returned to deficit in December, though much of the weakening came from a stronger Canadian dollar,” BMO economist Shelly Kaushik wrote in a report.

“In real terms, trade flows look to support StatCan’s surprisingly firm flash estimate for fourth-quarter growth.”

Statistics Canada said total exports fell 1.9% in December to $64.1 billion as shipments of motor vehicles and parts fell 8.2%.

Exports of energy products also fell 3.1% as crude oil exports dropped 4.9%, hurt by lower prices.

Meanwhile, total imports rose 0.2% in December to $64.4 billion. The increase came as imports of consumer goods gained 9.4%, boosted by a 28.1% increase in imports of pharmaceutical products.

In volume terms, total exports fell 0.4% in December while imports rose 1.3%.

In a separate report, Statistics Canada said the country’s international trade in services deficit was $700 million in December compared with $900 million in November.

Exports of services rose 1.3% to $16.9 billion, while imports of services gained 0.3% to come in at $17.6 billion.

When international trade in goods and services are combined, Canada posted an overall trade deficit of $1.0 billion in December compared with a surplus of $173 million in November.