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OTTAWA, April 22 (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales unexpectedly rose for a second straight month in February as consumers bought more clothing and cars, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.
Sales rose 0.4 percent, though analysts expected a decline of 0.8 percent. Sales were tempered by lower sales at gasoline stations, but sales volumes, which remove the effects of price changes, were more robust with a 1.5 percent gain.
Motor vehicle and parts dealers saw a 1.0 percent increase as Canadians bought more new and used cars, as well as recreational vehicles.
Sales at clothing and accessories stores rose 2.7 percent, while sales at general merchandise stores climbed 1.9 percent. All in all, nine of 11 sectors saw higher sales, which accounted for 89 percent of retail trade.
Recent data has suggested that the economy was slower in February after a strong start to the year but the retail sales report could bolster expectations for growth in the month.
The persisting slump in oil prices put Canada in a mild recession last year and the resource-focused economy is still struggling to regain momentum.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Bernadette Baum