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Canadian retail sales fell a less-than-expected 2.1% in May during lockdowns and a flash estimate signaled a 4.4% June advance as health restrictions were lifted, backing the central bank's view of a solid rebound led by consumers.

Statistics Canada's headline May figure published Friday beat the economist consensus for a 3.2% decline. Excluding autos and parts, sales fell 2.0% to match the market expectation. The May decline was led by building material and garden supply stores and auto dealers, and StatsCan didn't break out the biggest gainers in June.

Gasoline station sales rose 0.9% in May, the fourth gain in five months, a period of rising prices.

The Bank of Canada last week tapered QE purchases for a third time on optimism that mass vaccinations will underpin an economic rebound led by consumer spending.