MNI: Canada January Retail Sales +1.4%, Feb Flash -0.6%
Canadian retail sales rose a more-than-expected 1.4% in January led by autos while flash estimates for February showed a 0.6% decline alongside falls in manufacturing and wholesaling, evidence the economy may be stalling out in the first quarter.
Motor vehicle and parts sales led the January retail increase with a 3% gain, the sixth straight month of improvement. Sales excluding autos and parts increased by 0.9%, and after excluding gasoline as well by 0.5%, Statistics Canada reported Friday from Ottawa. The rise in core retail sales were driven by an increase in food and beverage purchases.
Economists predicted total sales would rise 0.7% and ex-auto sales fall by 0.5%.
StatsCan revised December retail sales to 0% from +0.5%.
Bank of Canada officials held the policy interest rate at 4.5% on March 8 and said they are likely finished if inflation keeps moving back towards target as officials expect. Officials also said the economy may post little growth over the first three quarters of this year.
Retail sales rose in 7 of 9 categories. From a year earlier sales rose 5%.
StatsCan in separate reports said flash factory sales fell 2.8% in February and wholesales by 1.6%.