Canada's June trade numbers surprisingly strong despite U.S. tariffs on metals

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The result could weigh on revised calculations of second quarter growth in the United States, which Trump hailed as a key achievement last week after it was reported as the strongest GDP increase in almost four years.

Trump has said trade wars are "easy to win" and made the soaring US-China goods deficit a principal issue in his nationalist economic agenda. "We expect the trade deficit to continue to widen, as a fiscal stimulus-led boost to demand leads to higher imports".

A dip in auto exports and rising oil prices in June drove the increase in the gap between USA imports and exports, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Statistics Canada says the improvement was due to a 4.1 per cent increase in exports compared with May, to a record high $50.7 billion, mainly from higher exports of energy products and aircraft.

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There were increases during the month of exports of crude oil, heavy fuel oils, diesel fuel, metal ores and non-metallic minerals, motor vehicles and parts, as well as industrial machinery, equipment and parts.

The gap widened 7.3 percent to $46.3 billion from a revised $43.2 billion in the prior month, Commerce Department data showed Friday.

At the same time, the country's trade deficit shrank dramatically to $0.6 billion in June from $2.7 billion in May, a much better outcome than markets expected.

And bilateral USA deficits widened with China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico, all trading partners that have retaliated against President Donald Trump's multi-front global trade war.

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On the other hand, it said shipments to the USA of autos - on which the US launched a formal investigation in June to consider tariffs - were the biggest contributor to June's growth in exports to the USA market.

"Today's report is the latest in a string of upside surprises that include May's GDP data and June inflation numbers", RBC senior economist Josh Nye wrote in a note to clients.

And so as Yahoo Finance has written before, tax cuts could end up working against Trump's efforts to bring down the USA trade deficit, which in 2017 totaled $570 billion. Exports surged 6 per cent, the biggest quarter-to-quarter increase in a decade, outpacing an impressive 3.2-per-cent rise in imports. According to National Bank of Canada's analyst Kyle Dahms, goods trade likely contributed to growth in Q2. Net foreign trade added 1.1 percentage point to GDP growth in the April to June period, Pantheon Macroeconomics estimates.

The U.S. economy accelerated to a 4.1 percent pace of growth in the second quarter, the fastest since 2014.

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That's below the 215,000 average for the first seven months this year, but economists said the slip will likely prove temporary. The government also revised hiring totals for May and June to show that another 59,000 jobs were added in those months.

The unexpectedly strong overall performance boosted market expectations that the Bank of Canada could hike interest rates next month.

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