Wholesale sales in Canada rose in March largely in line with expectations on strong demand for lumber, building supplies and food products.
This sets the stage for strong first-quarter growth when data emerge at the end of the month, with some economists suggesting it could show annualized expansion close to 5%.
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Wholesale sales increased 0.9% on a seasonally-adjusted basis in March to 60.22 billion Canadian dollars ($44.46 billion), Statistics Canada said Tuesday. Market expectations were for a 1% rise, according to economists at Royal Bank of Canada.
In volume terms, March wholesale sales climbed 0.6% from the previous month.
On a 12-month basis, wholesale trade rose 10.2%.
February's wholesale trade figures were also revised upward, and now indicate sales rose 0.3% versus the earlier estimate of a 0.2% decline.
For all of the first quarter, wholesale sales advanced 3.6%, or the highest quarterly increase since 2008, the data agency said.
Wholesale trade is the largest component of Canada's services sector -- which in turn accounts for two-thirds of the country's economic output. Wholesalers tend to move merchandise in large quantities to institutional, industrial and retail clients.
Wholesale inventories declined 0.3% to C$77.83 billion in March, and rose 6.1% on a 12-month basis. A fall in inventories tends to signal consumption exceeded production in the month.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 23, 2017 08:58 ET (12:58 GMT)