OTTAWA (Reuters) - A spurt in fertilizer exports helped spur an unexpected 1.5 percent increase in Canadian wholesale trade in April from March, according to Statistics Canada data on Tuesday which will improve the outlook for second quarter economic growth.
The gain exceeded even the highest forecast, of 0.8 percent, in a Reuters survey of economists. The median forecast was 0.2 percent, after the originally reported sales increase of 0.4 percent for March, now revised to 0.3 percent.
Statscan put the rise entirely down to a 48.5 percent boost in farm supplies sales; excluding that, sales did not change. It said exports of fertilizers and fertilizer materials jumped 51.8 percent in April after several soft months, and domestic sales were also strong because of an early spring and a high level of expected acreage to be planted. The figures are seasonally adjusted.
In volume terms, wholesale trade rose 1.3 percent. This is important in calculating real growth in gross domestic product. April factory sales data reported on Friday had put a damper on second quarter GDP expectations with a surprise 0.8 percent decline, though some of the fall was due to temporary factors.
Inventories rose 0.3 percent in April, while the ratio of inventory to sales fell to 1.21 from 1.23 in March. The ratio measures the time in months required to exhaust inventories at current sales levels. (Reporting by Randall Palmer, editing by Dave Zimmerman)