October 5, 2018 / 12:37 PM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1--Canada records first trade surplus since Dec 2016, exports down

(Adds details, background)

OTTAWA, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Canada recorded its first trade surplus for more than 18 months in August as unusually timed shutdowns at auto plants helped cut imports at a greater rate than exports, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

The surplus of C$526 million ($408 million) was the first since December 2016.

Auto plants in Canada, which usually cut production in July for retooling, had atypical planned shutdowns in August, Statscan said.

Exports in August fell by 1.1 percent, the biggest decline since January, partly due to lower shipments of motor vehicles, and imports dropped by 2.5 percent for the same reason.

Exports to the United States fell by 1.2 percent while imports declined by 1.3 percent. As a result, the trade surplus with the United States - which took 74.6 percent of Canada’s goods exports in August - remained almost unchanged at C$5.35 billion.

($1=$1.29 Canadian)

Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Susan Thomas

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