The Globe and Mail reports in its Thursday edition that it is hard to look at a $4-billion-plus trade deficit and call it "good news," but Wednesday's merchandise-trade report from January was a good-news report -- relatively speaking. The Globe's David Parkinson writes that at least the bleeding stopped.
Whether this might mark a turning of the corner for the ailing trade sector is far less certain. StatsCan reported that Canada's merchandise-trade deficit totalled $4.2-billion in January which, despite being the second-biggest ever, is still an improvement over December's record $4.8-billion shortfall. The gap narrowed amid month-over-month growth in both imports (up 1.5 per cent) and exports (up 2.9 per cent), evidence of a pickup in both domestic and external demand. The upswing in exports snapped a dismal run of five consecutive monthly declines.
January's gross domestic product report, to be released on Friday, may show a strong bounce-back from consecutive month-over-month contractions in November and December. Economists at Scotiabank calculated that real GDP was up about 0.3 per cent in January, and estimated that growth for the first quarter now looks on track for a 1-per-cent annualized rate.
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