* Canada imports up by 1.2 pct, exports down 0.2 pct
* Imports hit record high; surplus with U.S. grows
* Canada has posted 16 consecutive trade deficits
OTTAWA, June 4 (Reuters) - Canada’s trade deficit leapt in April as imports hit a record high and exports edged down, a further sign that exporters’ woes are curbing economic growth, Statistics Canada data indicated on Tuesday.
The April deficit hit C$567 million ($550 million), slightly more than the C$550 million shortfall forecast by market operators. Statscan revised March’s initial C$24 million surplus to a deficit of $3 million.
That revision means Canada has now posted 16 consecutive monthly trade deficits.
The Bank of Canada repeatedly expresses concern about the sluggish export sector, which is a major driver of the economy. Firms seeking to sell abroad are struggling to cope with a strong Canadian dollar and uncertainty in major markets such as the United States and the European Union.
Imports rose by 1.2 percent in April, the fourth consecutive month-on-month advance, to hit a record C$40.84 billion. The increase was led by imports of energy products, motor vehicles and parts.
Exports slipped by 0.2 percent to C$40.27 billion on lower shipments of metal ores, energy products and industrial machinery.
Exports to the United States, which took 74.6 percent of all Canadian exports in April, grew by 1.8 percent while imports grew by 1.9 percent to a record high. The trade surplus with the United States grew to C$3.87 billion from C$3.82 billion in March.