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Wholesale trade in Canada surged in May, recording the fastest one-month rate of growth in over two years, on strong sales of fertilizer and food, Statistics Canada said Thursday.
Month-over-month wholesale trade climbed 2.3% to 50.34 billion Canadian dollars ($48.34 billion), blowing away market expectations for a 0.3% advance, according to economists at Royal Bank of Canada.
The last time wholesale trade recorded a monthly gain this big was in January 2011, when it rose 2.4%.
The April data were also revised higher, indicating wholesale trade rose 0.4% in the month to C$49.23 billion versus the previous estimate of a 0.2% gain.
In volume terms, wholesale sales advanced 2.4%.
Wholesalers - which account for the largest portion of the service sector - generally act as an intermediary in the distribution of merchandise. As a result, many wholesalers tend to sell merchandise in large quantities to retailers, businesses and institutional clients.
Wholesale trade advanced in all categories tracked by Statistics Canada, but the data agency said two sectors stood out: sales of agricultural supplies, which advanced 19.6% on higher-than-usual demand for fertilizer; and food industry shipments, which climbed 4.2%.
On a year-over-year basis, wholesale sales gained 0.8%.
Inventories remained unchanged in May, at C$61.82 billion, after rising 0.5% in April.
The inventory-to-sales ratio -- which measures the time in months required to exhaust stockpiles if sales remain at present levels -- declined to 1.23:1 in May from 1.26:1 in April.
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