News from Reuters

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Wholesale trade grew 0.6 percent in March, slightly better than expected, following a sharp slide in February, amid strong sales of building supplies and machinery and electronic equipment, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast, on average, a gain of 0.4 percent in March. Statscan revised the February figure to a decline of 2.1 percent, from the 1.8 percent drop previously reported.

Building supplies rebounded in March to climb 3.4 percent, accounting for about half the total rise, Statscan said. Machinery and equipment also boosted the sales figure, offsetting weakness in consumer-related groups such as personal and household goods.

On a quarterly basis, sales fell 0.8 percent for the second straight quarterly decline, blamed largely on weak automotive and lumber sales.

(Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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