March 20, 2018 / 12:47 PM / 6 months ago

Canada January wholesale trade edges up on sales of food, machinery

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian wholesale trade edged up in January as higher sales in the food and machinery and equipment sectors offset declines in the building material and vehicle industries, data from Statistics Canada showed on Tuesday.

A woman browses in the fruit section of a Loblaw supermarket in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

The 0.1 percent increase in the value of wholesale trade topped economists’ forecasts for no change. December was upwardly revised to show a decrease of 0.2 percent from the initially reported 0.5 percent decline.

Sales were up in four out of seven sectors in January, accounting for 66 percent of wholesale trade. Removing the effects of price changes, sales volumes were up 0.5 percent.

Still, the figures were likely to underscore expectations that economic growth was soft at the start of 2018 following disappointing January manufacturing sales data last week.

The small increase in January wholesale trade was driven by a 3.1 percent jump in the food, beverage and tobacco sector. A 1.6 percent gain in machinery, equipment and supplies also supported overall sales.

But sales of building materials fell 4 percent, the first decline since August 2017. Sales of motor vehicles and parts fell for the second month in a row, down 1.6 percent, while sales were off 0.5 percent from a year ago, making it the only major sector to decline on an annual basis.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Frances Kerry

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