UPDATE 2-Dive in Canada factory sales signals growth slowdown
* Sales plunge 2.4 percent
* Analysts had expected a 0.3 percent increase
* Lower sales of petroleum, coal and primary metals to blame
* Some refineries reported slowdowns longer than usual
* Inventories reach record high
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, June 14 (Reuters) - Refinery slowdowns helped push Canadian factory sales to their biggest monthly drop in nearly four years in April, signaling a weak start to the second quarter after strong economic growth in the first three months of the year.
Statistics Canada said on Friday that sales plunged by 2.4 percent in April from March, the fourth drop in five months and the biggest retreat since the 2.5 percent fall recorded in August 2009.
Canadian growth in the first quarter was 2.5 percent on an annualized basis, much higher than the Bank of Canada's 1.5 percent forecast in April. The central bank sees 1.8 percent growth in the second quarter. Continued...