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Exports rose to a record high in May, buoyed by rising demand for high-technology equipment and energy products, Statistics Canada said yesterday.

Imports were also at a record high, in what analysts said was further evidence of a thriving economy.

The May trade surplus was $3.7-billion, up sharply from $2.96-billion in April. Analysts had been expecting a surplus of $3.24-billion. Exports hit a record $34.3-billion, up from $32.79-billion and above analysts' predictions of $32.57-billion. May's record eclipses the previous high of $33.8-billion, recorded in March.

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"On a particularly encouraging note, the snap-back in exports in May was broadly based across Canada's major trading partners . . . indicating Canadian exporters continue to benefit from improving demand conditions around the globe," said Derek Burleton, a senior economist at TD Economics.

Statscan said exports, which rose 4.6 per cent, continued to be volatile, as they had been all year.

Canada's continuing high-tech boom and the growing foreign demand for Internet services was reflected in a significant rise in exports of electronic components used in fibre optics. "Exports of high-technology equipment were up. Telecommunications and television equipment exports have been particularly strong this year, rising 13 per cent in May," Statscan said.

The figures reflect Canada's continuing reliance on the U.S. economic dynamo. A full 86 per cent of exports went to the United States, which also accounted for 72 per cent of Canada's imports. Canada's trade surplus with the United States in May hit a record $7.47-billion. The previous record of $7-billion was set in January.

National Bank Financial Inc. analyst Vincent Lepine said he expects the trade surplus to diminish as the U.S. economy continues to slow down and Canada's trade deficit with the rest of the world grows. "With the world economy also losing steam, a trend reversal is difficult to foresee," he said.

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