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Canadian Retail Sales Increased 1% in January on Automobiles

Canadian retail sales gained in January to recoup some of December’s plunge on advances at auto dealerships and department stores.

Sales climbed 1 percent to C$38.9 billion ($38.1 billion), Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa, following a revised drop of 2.3 percent in the prior month, the biggest since April 2010. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast a 0.9 percent increase, based on the median of 22 projections.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presents a budget this afternoon he has said will reflect signs of “modest” economic growth, as consumers are weighed down by record debts while exports and investments sagged late last year.

Motor vehicle and parts sales rose 2.8 percent to C$8.78 billion in January, following December’s 6.5 percent plunge. Purchases excluding the motor vehicle and parts category rose 0.5 percent, faster than the 0.3 percent economists predicted.

Sales advanced in seven of 11 categories marking 52 percent of total sales. Beer, wine and liquor store sales rose 2.2 percent to C$1.65 billion as the National Hockey League’s lockout ended, Statistics Canada said.

Department store receipts jumped 11.5 percent to C$2.23 billion in January, while gasoline station sales fell a third month, by 1.4 percent to C$4.84 billion.

The volume of sales were little changed in January. That measure excludes the effects of price changes and more closely reflects the industry’s contribution to economic growth.

Sales in January were 0.1 percent lower than a year earlier, Statistics Canada said.

The agency also said today the number of Canadians receiving jobless benefits fell a third straight month in January. The number of regular beneficiaries declined by 1.6 percent, or by 8,540, to 531,120. The figure declined by 8.8 percent over the same month a year earlier.

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