OTTAWA (Reuters) - A surge in auto sales helped Canadian wholesale trade rise by 2.0 percent in June -- the largest margin since February -- and beat market expectations, according to Statistics Canada data on Tuesday.
Automotive sector sales rose 10.6 percent from May and helped give a 4.2 percent boost to the struggling manufacturing province of Ontario.
Market analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast a monthly rise in wholesale trade of only 0.7 percent. It was the fifth increase in six months and left sales 5.0 percent higher than a year earlier.
In constant dollars, sales still rose by 1.0 percent from May. The data will contribute to the notion that Canada's economy may have escaped negative growth in the second quarter.
Wholesale inventories rose by 1.2 percent in June from May but because of the strong sales increase, the ratio of inventory to sales fell to 1.23 from 1.24 in May.
* Statistics Canada report
Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Scott Anderson