Canada Feb retail sales see biggest increase in eight months

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales racked up their biggest increase in eight months in February, lifted by widespread gains and an increase in sales at gasoline stations, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.

Sales rose 1.7 percent, handily topping economists’ expectations for an increase of 0.5 percent and ending two consecutive months of declines. It was the largest increase since last June, the agency said.

In volume terms, sales rose 1.3 percent. As well, January’s figures were upwardly revised to show a decline of 1.4 percent from the previously reported 1.7 percent drop .

Gains were seen in all 11 sectors, including a 2.2 percent increase in sales at gasoline stations as prices rose. It was the first increase for gasoline sales since the price of oil peaked in June 2014.

The report could bode well for first quarter growth forecasts, though the Bank of Canada said earlier this week it expects the economy to have stalled in the first three months of the year.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama