Canada's trade deficit unexpectedly ballooned to $3.19 billion in December as imports grew faster than exports for the second month in a row, data from Statistics Canada indicated on Tuesday.

The shortfall, the 11th in a row, was greater than the $2.20 billion deficit predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll and was the seventh largest on record.

Imports rose by 1.5 per cent to a record $49.70 billion on increases in nine of 11 sections as volumes posted a 1.0 per cent gain. Imports of energy products jumped by 16.9 per cent.

Exports increased for the third month in a row, strengthening by 0.6 per cent to $46.51 billion. Exports of energy products, which were hit by pipeline disruptions in November, expanded by 6.2 per cent to reach the highest in more than three years.

Exports to the United States fell by 0.8 per cent, while imports dropped by 1.3 per cent. As a result, the trade surplus with the United States, which accounted for 75.1 per cent of Canadian goods exported in December, edged up to $3.42 billion from $3.28 billion in November.

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