July 22, 2019 / 12:47 PM / 2 months ago

Canadian wholesale trade falls 1.8% in May on lower auto sales

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers are picture in St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian wholesale trade fell 1.8% in May after five months of gains, Statistics Canada said on Monday, as sales in the motor vehicle and auto parts industries dropped.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had predicted an increase of 0.5% in May from April. The national statistics agency said wholesale inventories increased for a ninth consecutive month, jumping 1.1%, while sales volume decreased by 1.9%.

“Wholesale trade turned out to be a wholesale miss in May,” said Royce Mendes of CIBC Capital Markets, noting the Canadian dollar was trading weaker following the news.

The loonie hit a nine-day low, falling to 1.3102 to the U.S greenback or 76.32 U.S. cents.

Statistics Canada said sales in the motor vehicle and parts subsector declined by 4.3% in May, the industry’s largest drop since February 2018.

Meanwhile, lower imports of passenger cars and light trucks in May coincided with declines in motor vehicle sales, Statistics Canada said, with sales dropping 5.2%.

Declines were also seen in the miscellaneous subsector, where sales decreased 4.2%. The subsector includes goods like recyclable materials, agricultural supplies, non-agricultural chemicals, paper, paper products and disposable plastic products.

The drop in miscellaneous sales, Statscan said, was led by an 11.1% decline in the agricultural supplies industry, the largest drop seen since June 2018.

Sales were lower in six of the seven subsectors and in seven of Canada’s 10 provinces, the agency said. Alberta led the provincial decline, with sales falling 8.7% as a result of a decrease in sales of miscellaneous goods as well as machinery, equipment and supplies.

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky

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