* Wholesale trade grows 2.3 percent vs forecast of 0.3 percent
* Sales volume rises 2.4 percent in May from April
* Inventories unchanged after 0.5 percent rise
OTTAWA, July 18 (Reuters) - Canadian wholesale trade grew by a stronger-than-expected 2.3 percent in May from April, the biggest monthly jump since January 2011, due mainly to higher sales of fertilizer and food, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.
Analysts had expected a 0.3 percent gain, according to the median forecast in a Reuters poll. Statscan revised the April wholesale growth figure to 0.4 percent from 0.2 percent.
Stronger fertilizer sales in May contributed to a 6.7 percent increase in the “miscellaneous” subsector which includes agricultural supplies, Statscan said. A 4.2 percent rise in the food industry helped boost sales in the food, beverage and tobacco subsector by 3.9 percent.
Together, the two subsectors accounted for more than 70 percent of wholesale growth in May. Sales rose in all seven subsectors.
The strong performance contrasts with other evidence of a weak second quarter. The Bank of Canada on Wednesday sharply cut its second-quarter economic growth forecast to 1 percent from 1.8 percent largely due to the impact of catastrophic flooding, citing temporary factors such as Alberta floods and a strike by construction workers in Quebec.
In volume terms, wholesale trade grew 2.4 percent in May.
Inventories were unchanged following a 0.5 percent increase in April.