UPDATE 1-Canada wholesale trade drops 2.2 pct, much more than expected

Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:39am EDT
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(Adds details of release, background)

OTTAWA, April 20 (Reuters) - The value of Canadian wholesale trade sank by a much larger-than-expected 2.2 percent in February, pulled down in part by lower machinery and equipment sales, Statistics Canada data indicated on Wednesday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll predicted a 0.3 percent drop in wholesale sales from January after three consecutive month-on-month increases. The decline was the largest since the 3.6 percent retreat seen in January 2015.

Lower sales were recorded in five of seven subsectors, accounting for 66 percent of total wholesale trade. In volume terms, sales fell by 1.9 percent.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector fell by 4.8 percent on broad-based weakness, particularly in construction, forestry, mining and industrial machinery and supplies.

The motor vehicles and parts subsector dropped by 3.5 percent on lower imports and exports as well as lower sales by assembly plants. Overall, wholesale inventories rose by 0.2 percent.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)