Only one import sector showed improvement in October, despite the Canadian dollar appreciating relative to the US currency, giving Canadians higher purchasing power on imports denominated in US dollars.
Automotive imports edged up 1.8% to $6.2 billion, led by a 10.3% increase in passenger auto imports, which surpassed $2.0 billion. Car imports have expanded by $560 million since the blackout in August, Statistics Canada reports.
Truck and other motor vehicles edged up a slight 0.4% in October to $1.1 billion. Offsetting these increases was a 2.7% decline in motor vehicle part imports to over $3.0 billion.
The machinery and equipment sector experienced the most weakness, accounting for over 90% of overall import declines in October. Canadian companies bought $7.7 billion in machinery and equipment, a 5.3% drop from September, as all categories declined. Imports of machinery and equipment, often an indicator of business investment were down 11.4% from levels in October 2002.
Imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment fell 11.5%. They are down almost 25% from October 2002. Industrial and agricultural machinery slid 5.7% to $2.1 billion, while imports of other machinery and equipment have been on a downward trend since late 2002. Imports of these products fell another 4.7% in October to $3.6 billion.
Energy product imports dropped 4.5% to $1.4 billion on widespread declines. Crude petroleum imports slipped $12 million to $960 million, their third consecutive monthly drop. Crude petroleum represents 70% of overall energy imports and usually the leading contributor to any movements. This was not the case in October, as petroleum and coal product imports fell by a larger $38 million to $263 million, mainly on easing demand for motor gasoline.
Imports of industrial goods and materials cooled a slight 0.4% to $5.2 billion. At the same time, imports of consumer good dipped 0.8% to $3.8 billion, the second consecutive marginal drop.