OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's trade deficit fell unexpectedly to C$826 million ($826 million) in September as exports increased by 1.9 percent while imports were unchanged, Statistics Canada data indicated on Thursday.
Market operators had expected a C$1.50 billion deficit. Statscan revised August's shortfall to C$1.52 billion from an initial C$1.06 billion to take into account new methods of calculating the data.
Trade is a major driver of Canada's economy and analysts cite the problems faced by exporters, such as a strong Canadian dollar and weak foreign markets, as reasons for sluggish growth in recent months.
The increase in September exports reflected a 4.2 percent jump in energy shipments, mainly crude oil and crude bitumen. Overall volumes edged up by 0.1 percent.
Imports were flat, with higher imports of metals and chemicals compensating for lower shipments of consumer goods and motor vehicles. Volumes grew by 1.6 percent.
Exports to the United States, which took 73.2 percent of all Canadian exports in September, rose 1.3 percent while imports grew by 0.5 percent. As a result, Canada's surplus with the United States grew to C$3.47 billion from a revised C$3.25 billion in August.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by James Dalgleish