Dismal data adds to doubts about Bank of Canada export forecast

Fri Aug 5, 2016 3:48pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA Aug 5 (Reuters) - Another month of bleak Canadian trade data in June has fueled concerns the central bank has been too optimistic about non-energy exports helping to revive the country's struggling economy, economists said on Friday.

The situation is not bad enough to spur additional rate cuts, but could soon prompt a more cautious tone from the Bank of Canada, they said in interviews.

"It will give the bank pause," said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada.

"I think the bank is going to express caution, disappointment with the trade number, but probably also imply that they are going to continue to monitor the data."

Canada's second-quarter trade deficit hit a record, with exports tumbling 4.7 percent, their biggest decline since 2009, data showed on Friday. Export growth has been weak after a strong gain in January. A 0.6 percent rise in June exports came largely due to a jump in prices, with volumes down 1.4 percent.

While the figures are prone to revisions and May's wildfires in Alberta made it difficult to determine how the economy is performing, economists said the data raise a red flag.

The central bank is counting on an uptick in non-energy exports for the economy to meet its growth projections, but those shipments were down 0.4 percent in June.

"If we get another couple months of this type of weakness, you would have to expect the bank needs to be a little more forthright in their assessment," said David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities.   Continued...