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* Markets had expected 0.4 percent growth
* Traders report lower sales of machinery, equipment
OTTAWA, April 19 (Reuters) - Canadian wholesale trade unexpectedly remained flat in February from January, held back by lower sales of machinery, equipment and supplies, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday.
Market operators had expected a 0.4 percent increase. Statscan revised January's advance to 0.5 percent from an initial 0.3 percent. The volume of sales remained stable.
In February there were decreases in five of the seven subsectors, representing about 70 percent of wholesale trade. Wholesalers in seven of Canada's 10 provinces reported higher sales, but these were offset by a 1.1 percent drop in Ontario, the largest province.
Sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector shrank by 2.1 percent on the back of a 8.2 percent slump in shipments of computer and communications equipment.
The drop was partially offset by a 3.0 percent increase in sales by the motor vehicles and parts subsector. Wholesale inventories grew by 0.6 percent from January.