March 6, 2019 / 1:40 PM / a year ago

CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 1-Canada racks up record trade deficit as energy exports slump

(Adds Statistics Canada making clear that export slump was largest since July 2017, not July 2007)

OTTAWA, March 6 (Reuters) - Canada racked up a record trade deficit of C$4.59 billion ($3.43 billion) in December as the value of exports slumped by the most in over a year due to lower crude oil prices, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.

The deficit - much wider than the C$2.8 billion shortfall predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll - is the latest in a string of disappointing Canadian data. The previous largest monthly trade deficit was the C$3.99 billion gap recorded in September 2016.

The Bank of Canada is due to announce its latest interest rate decision at 9 a.m. Eastern (1400 GMT) on Wednesday and markets expect it to remain on the sidelines. The central bank says the pace of future hikes will depend heavily on data.

Exports fell by 3.8 percent in December - the largest monthly drop since a 4.5 percent plunge in July 2017 - as weak prices slashed the value of crude shipments by 28.7 percent. Canada is a major oil exporter.

Imports increased by 1.6 percent, the first gain since May, on higher imports of energy products.

Canada sent 72.8 percent of all its goods exports to the United States in December. Exports to the United States dropped by 3.6 percent while imports slipped 2.4 percent and as a result, the bilateral trade surplus shrank to C$1.78 billion from C$2.25 billion in November.

Publication of the December data was delayed from Feb 7 due to a partial U.S. government shutdown.

($1=$1.34 Canadian)

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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