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July 18 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian wholesale sales rose at the fastest pace in more than two years in May, reaching a record on sales of fertilizer and food.

Sales rose 2.3 percent to C$50.3 billion ($48.3 billion), Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa, compared with the median estimate for a 0.3 percent gain in a Bloomberg survey with 15 responses.

The Bank of Canada is counting on business investment and exports to drive growth, saying yesterday the world’s 11th-largest economy won’t reach full capacity until mid-2015 because of weak foreign demand and slower housing investment. Today’s report showed the pace of wholesale sales over the last year was 0.8 percent.

“It was a good number, no doubt about that,” said Krishen Rangasamy, senior economist at National Bank Financial in Montreal, adding Canada isn’t “out of the woods because domestic demand remains soft” along with exports.

The Canadian dollar was 0.1 percent weaker at C$1.0419 per U.S. dollar at 10:03 a.m. in Toronto. One dollar buys 95.98 U.S. cents.

Agricultural supplies such as fertilizer led the May gain with a jump of 19.6 percent to C$2.63 billion, Statistics Canada said today. Earlier this week, the agency reported that fertilizer purchases also boosted May factory sales.

Food sales rose 4.2 percent to C$8.78 billion while motor vehicle and parts gained 1.4 percent to C$8.44 billion.

The volume of wholesale sales, which removes the impact of price changes, advanced 2.4 percent in May.

Inventories were little changed at C$61.8 billion, lowering the inventory-to-sales ratio to 1.23 in May from 1.26 in April.

Statistics Canada today also revised higher its estimate of the April wholesale sales gain to 0.4 percent from an earlier 0.2 percent.

The agency also said today that the number of Canadians receiving jobless benefits fell 2.4 percent in May from the previous month, or by 12,290 to 508,510. From the year-ago month, the number of beneficiaries fell 7.4 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Scanlan at; Chris Wellisz at

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