May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian retail sales unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent to C$41.1 billion ($37.7 billion) in March on lower automobile and clothing receipts, adding to evidence the economy may be cooling.
Sales excluding motor vehicles and parts rose 0.1 percent, Statistics Canada said today from Ottawa. Economists had forecast a 0.3 percent increase in total sales and the ex-autos number, according to Bloomberg News surveys.
Canada’s economy is showing signs of slowing with the statistics agency also reporting this month unexpected declines in employment and wholesaling. Output growth will diminish to a 1.8 percent pace between January and March from 2.9 percent at the end of last year, the slowest since 2012, according to a Bloomberg economist survey, in part because of a harsh winter across North America.
“Even at this late stage, the lousy winter weather continues to linger in Canada’s economic data, pointing to a sluggish growth rate for all of March,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. Statistics Canada will report first-quarter gross domestic product data on May 30.
The agency revised February’s sales gain to 0.7 percent from 0.5 percent, with that month’s total of C$41.1 billion constituting a record in data back to 1991.
Canada’s dollar was little changed at C$1.0903 per U.S. dollar at 10:22 a.m. in Toronto. Yields on benchmark two-year federal government bonds were unchanged at 1.05 percent.
Sales declined in seven of 11 categories marking 59 percent of total receipts.
Motor vehicle and parts sales declined 0.7 percent to C$9.4 billion. Clothing and accessory sales fell 1.4 percent to C$2.24 billion.
Gasoline station receipts advanced 0.8 percent to C$5.45 billion.
The volume of sales fell 0.2 percent. That measure excludes the effects of price changes and more closely reflects the industry’s contribution to economic growth.
In a separate release, Statistics Canada said the number of Canadians receiving unemployment insurance in March rose 0.4 percent to 509,760.
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