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Canadian wholesales rebound sharply in April

H.S. Borji
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Canadian wholesale sales rebounded sharply in April, a sign the economy was expanding at a steady pace after a disappointing first quarter.

Wholesale sales increased 1.2 percent in April to $51.2 billion, following a revised decline of 0.3 percent in March, Statistics Canada reported today in Ottawa. Economists forecast a gain of 0.6 percent.

Sales volume, a figure used by economists to calculate gross domestic product, advanced 1.2 percent in April.

Sales increased in all subsectors except food, beverage and tobacco. The subsectors that reported growth in April accounted for 80 percent of total wholesale sales, official data showed.

Building material and supplies registered the largest gain in April, advancing for the fourth consecutive month at a rate of 3.6 percent.

The machinery, equipment and supplies sub-sector rebounded sharply in April, rising 2.2 percent.

The computer and communications equipment industry registered its third increase in four months, advancing 5.3 percent.

Motor vehicle and parts dealers saw their sales advance 1.1 percent, offsetting some of the previous month’s declines.

The higher sales figures were associated with stronger exports. Exports of forestry products and building materials increased significantly in April, StatsCan said. Stronger exports were also recorded for motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Sales were up in six Canadian provinces, led by a 2.3 percent gain in Ontario. British Columbia was the second largest contributor. Sales in that province advanced 3.9 percent. Sales in Alberta rose for the fourth consecutive month at a pace of 0.8 percent, official data showed.

Today’s sales figures suggest the Canadian economy was rebounding at the start of the second quarter, as the end of an unusually harsh winter unleashed pent-up demand. Canada’s economy expanded only 1.1 percent annually in the first quarter, disappointing forecasts.

Higher sales usually indicate a pickup in retail trade and overall consumption, key elements of the domestic economy. Canadian retail sales in March slipped from their record high, declining 0.1 percent to $41.07 billion.

In volume terms, retail sales tumbled 0.2 percent in March.

Statistics Canada will report on April retail sales Friday. Market analysts forecast retail sales to have increased 0.5 percent in April. Sales excluding automobiles are forecast to have grown 0.3 percent.

Consumer spending has been one of the main catalysts of economic growth in Canada since the 2008 financial crisis.

The housing sector, which has been the other main catalyst of growth, is forecast to stabilize after a long boom period. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation said earlier this week in an article its goal for the housing market is stability, not growth.

Canadian home sales surged 4.8 percent in May, according to data released by the Canadian Real Estate Association on Monday.

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