UPDATE 1-Canada Jan wholesale trade sees biggest drop in 6 yrs

Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:40am EDT
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(Adds details from report)

OTTAWA, March 18 (Reuters) - The value of Canadian wholesale sales tumbled far more than expected in January, racking up the biggest decline in six years on a sharp drop in the motor vehicle and parts industry, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.

Wholesale trade fell 3.1 percent to C$53.7 billion ($42 billion), exceeding economists' expectations of a decline of 0.8 percent and the largest decrease since January 2009. December was upwardly revised to 2.8 percent from the initially reported 2.5 percent.

In volume terms, sales declined 3.3 percent in January.

Sales were lower in four of the seven subsectors, led by a 11.3 percent slump in motor vehicle and parts sales that took the sector to its lowest level since April of last year. Without this industry, overall wholesale sales were down 1.3 percent.

Wholesale sales declined in five out of 10 provinces and three territories, accounting for 67 percent of total sales, though Ontario accounted for most of the decrease as every sector in the province declined.

Inventories were up 1.3 percent, rising for the thirteenth month in a row. Six out of seven subsectors saw their inventories increase to record levels. (US $1 = $1.28 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)