Canada exports rose in October helped by weak dollar

Container ships dock at Roberts Bank Superport in Delta

By Ismail Shakil

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's exports rose in October, largely driven by pharmaceutical products, while imports were also up, largely as a result of a depreciation of the Canadian dollar, data showed on Tuesday.

The country's trade surplus with the world grew to C$1.21 billion ($888.53 million) in October, Statistics Canada said, slightly above analysts' forecasts of a surplus of C$1.20 billion.

Exports rose 1.5%, helped by higher exports of medicinal products as well as gold bars and coins to the United States, Statscan said. By volume, exports were up 0.1%.

Imports rose 0.6%, but were down 0.9% by volume. Motor vehicles and parts as well as metal and non-metallic mineral products drove the gains, while imports of energy products also increased, bolstered by incoming U.S. crude oil.

"Canada's merchandise trade surplus widened in October, with a weaker Canadian dollar providing a helping hand. Still, trade volumes look to have added to growth in the month," said Shelly Kaushik, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, in a note.

A large share of Canada's trade is done in U.S. dollars, which means converted values are higher when the Canadian dollar depreciates against the U.S. dollar. When expressed in U.S. dollars, Canadian exports were down 1.3% in October, and imports decreased 2.2%, Statscan said.

"The essentially unchanged level of export volumes in October, despite a big boost from higher agricultural exports, suggests that the sector is beginning to struggle amid weaker external demand," said Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics.

Exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products rose 10.2% in October to a record-high C$5.5 billion, helped by canola and wheat. Higher exports of canola, oilseeds and wheat also contributed to a 25.4% jump in exports to China, which hit a record high of C$3.3 billion in October.

The Canadian dollar was trading at 1.3625 to the greenback, or 73.39 U.S. cents, down 0.3% on the day.

($1 = 1.3618 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; additional reporting by Dale Smith and Fergal Smith; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Bernadette Baum)