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OTTAWA, March 18 (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales rose far more than expected in January, boosted by motor vehicle purchases and a rebound in a number of sectors that slumped at the end of last year, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.
Sales rose 2.1 percent, topping analysts' expectations for a gain of 0.6 percent. Excluding the auto sector, sales were up 1.2 percent, while overall volumes gained 2.1 percent.
Motor vehicle and parts dealers led the advance with a 4.8 percent increase, the sector's third gain in four months, as sales at new car dealers rose.
Consumers cut back their spending in December in the midst of unseasonably warm weather, but five sectors bounced back in January from lower end-of-year sales. Sales at general merchandise stores jumped 4.9 percent, while clothing purchases rose 1.2 percent.
Spending was up in eight of Canada's 10 provinces, including Ontario and Quebec. But sales in oil-sensitive Alberta slipped 0.2 percent, the fourth decrease in five months, as higher new car sales were offset by lower sales at gasoline stations.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Paul Simao