OTTAWA - Canada's trade deficit was essentially unchanged in September from the previous month, totalling Can$3.2 billion (US$2.5 billion), the government said.

Analysts had forecast a Can$2.9 billion deficit in the month following a Can$3.4 billion shortfall in August. According to Statistics Canada, exports fell 0.3 percent on lower passenger car and light truck exports, while imports decreased 0.3 percent on lower prices. Exports were down for a fourth consecutive month since a record high in May, despite increases in most categories, to Can$43.6 billion.

The nearly 16 percent drop in exports of passenger cars and light trucks was due to work stoppages in the automotive industry as well as changes to certain models destined for the American market. The decline was partially offset by higher oil exports. Total imports, meanwhile, amounted to Can$46.7 billion, with communications and audio and video equipment posting the largest decrease, mainly on lower imports of cell phones.

Imports of consumer goods also fell for a fifth consecutive month. But energy imports were up. Exports to the United States -- Canada's largest trading partner -- fell, but imports from the southern neighbor increased. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States fell to Can$2.2 billion.

In the month, there were increased exports to China (unwrought gold) and Brazil (pharmaceutical products), partially offset by lower exports to Japan (iron, coal and copper). Lower imports from Switzerland (pharmaceutical products) and Japan (gold bars), meanwhile, were partially offset by higher imports from Saudi Arabia (crude oil) and Singapore.

Following four consecutive quarterly gains, the third quarter saw the strongest overall trade decrease since 2009.