OTTAWA—Canadian wholesale sales rose for a fourth consecutive month in July as sales in the motor-vehicle industry reached a record high.
Wholesale trade rose 0.3% in July from June, to a seasonally adjusted 56.53 billion Canadian dollars ($42.80 billion), Statistics Canada said Wednesday. The increase matched market expectations, according to economists at Royal Bank of Canada.
The report marks a fourth straight month of increases in wholesale trade and comes after a 0.7% advance in June.
In volume terms, wholesale sales were unchanged in July. Inventories were also unchanged, at C$71.83 billion.
The results were “slightly disappointing” given expectations for an economic rebound in July and a strong export performance in that month, CIBC Capital Markets Economist Nick Exarhos said in a note.
Wholesale sales have been a relative bright spot for Canada in recent months, posting advances throughout the second quarter at a time when the Canadian economy was contracting.
While wholesale data often get less attention than other economic indicators, wholesalers account for the biggest portion of the country’s services sector, which in turn makes up around two-thirds of overall economic output. Wholesalers generally act as intermediaries in distributing merchandise and tend to sell goods in large amounts to retailers, businesses and institutional clients.
July’s wholesale data come one day after Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz warned in a speech in Quebec City that Canadians should prepare for a prolonged period of slow growth and low interest rates. Households may need to save more for retirement and businesses may need to adjust to lower rates of return on their investments, Mr. Poloz said.
The central bank has held interest rates steady at 0.5% for more than a year. Its next policy decision is due Oct. 19.
The motor vehicle and parts sector was the biggest contributor to increased July wholesale sales, rising 2.0% to C$11.11 billion. Sales in the motor vehicle industry rose 3.0% to a record high of C$8.75 billion.
Excluding the auto sector, wholesale sales declined 0.1%, Statistics Canada said.
Sales in the food, beverage and tobacco sector rose 1.2% to C$10.99 billion, while machinery, equipment and supplies sales were up 0.6% to C$11.21 billion.
Offsetting the advances was a 2.0% drop in sales of personal and household goods and a 2.0% decline in the building materials and supplies sector.
The inventory-to-sales ratio, or the time in months required to eliminate stockpiles if sales were to remain at current levels, was 1.27:1.