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Canada March Wholesale Sales Post Surprise Drop on Automobiles

May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian wholesale sales fell from a record high in March, posting an unexpected decline led by a drop in automobiles.

Sales fell 0.4 percent to C$50.5 billion ($46.3 billion), Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa, compared with the median estimate for a 0.4 percent gain in a Bloomberg survey with 12 responses.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz is counting on a rotation to business investment and exports from spending by indebted consumers to lead 2.3 percent economic growth this year. The recovery has been uneven, with factory sales rising in March to the highest since before the last recession in 2008, while employment declined in April.

Motor vehicles and parts wholesale sales fell 3.0 percent to C$8.11 billion in March. Machinery and equipment declined by 1.4 percent to C$10.6 billion.

The volume of wholesale sales, which removes the impact of price changes, fell 0.2 percent in the month.

Inventories advanced 2.3 percent to a record C$64.1 billion in March, the third gain in a row. The inventory-to-sales ratio, a measure of how many months it would take to deplete stocks at the current sales pace, rose to 1.27 in March from 1.24 in February, the highest since June.

Wholesale sales were 2.9 percent higher in March than the same month a year earlier.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at gquinn1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Badertscher at pbadertscher@bloomberg.net

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