Statistics Canada said exports of goods and services fell 0.4 per cent between October and December after increasing 2.2 per cent in the previous three months. Much of the slowdown in exports was tied to the price of oil, as Canadian energy companies pumped out far less in response to plunging prices.
"Exports of motor vehicles and parts (-3.5 per cent) and energy products (-1.3 per cent) were notably lower," the data agency said.
Overall, the 0.6 per cent quarterly expansion translates into a 2.4 per cent annual rate, which is stronger than the U.S.'s growth during the same period, 2.2 per cent.
The 2.4 per cent annual rate is a bit slower than the 3.2 per cent pace of expansion seen during the fall of 2014, but again still better than what economists had been expecting.
The economics team at Scotiabank was pleased with the unexpected gain, but the enthusiasm was tempered because of weakness below the surface. "More than half of that growth is driven by strong inventories accumulation," which is unlikely to be sustainable, the bank said. "The Canadian consumer performed well over the quarter, but trade dragged on headline growth."