UPDATE 1-Record imports boost Canada Dec trade gap

Thu Feb 6, 2014 8:41am EST
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* Canada trade gap C$1.66 billion, highest since Nov 2012

* November gap much larger than originally reported

* Volume of imports falls but higher prices boost level

* Volume of exports rise

By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Canada's trade deficit in December jumped to the highest level since November 2012, C$1.66 billion ($1.49 billion), almost C$1 billion more than expected, with imports hitting a record level despite a drop in import volumes.

Statistics Canada on Thursday also made a major revision of the November gap to C$1.53 billion from an originally reported C$940 million. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had, on average, expected the deficit to fall to C$700 million in December.

Higher prices, partly due to a weaker currency, accounted for all of the 1.2 percent increase in the import level to C$41.38 billion, eclipsing the previous record set in August. The volume actually fell by 0.4 percent while prices rose 1.6 percent. Many imports are priced in U.S. dollars, making them cost more if the Canadian dollar falls.

Exports were up 0.9 percent to C$39.72 billion, with the volumes of exports rising by an encouraging 0.8 percent.

The climb in imports was led by crude oil, largely from Norway. A decline in exports of energy, food and cars and car parts partly offset increased exports in most other areas.