Canada Retail Gain Signals GDP Grew in June for 1st Time in 2015

Canadian retail sales rose faster than economists forecast in June, a sign the economy grew that month for the first time this year.

Sales climbed 0.6 percent to a record C$43.2 billion ($33 billion), Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa, faster than the 0.2 percent economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast. Consumer spending is being helped this year by a robust labor market and low interest rates.

The report follows gains in manufacturing, wholesaling and exports, and means the five-month streak of shrinking output may end when Canada reports gross domestic product data for June on Sept. 1, said Nick Exarhos, an economist at CIBC World Markets. Those figures will also show a contraction for the April-to-June period before output picks up again in the third quarter, according to median forecasts in Bloomberg surveys.

“We weren’t really relying on retailing to provide much, and the fact it didn’t decelerate or cause much of a disappointment provides some relief,” said Exarhos. June output may rise by 0.5 percent, he said, which would be the most since May 2014.

The statistics agency also said the inflation rate quickened to 1.3 percent in July from a year earlier, compared with 1 percent in June. The core rate, which excludes eight volatile products, increased 2.4 percent.

Oil Damage

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, campaigning for an Oct. 19 election, has touted the economy’s resilience through an oil shock that has curbed exports. Friday’s reports supported his case, with retail sales gaining in all 10 of Canada’s provinces, including Alberta where the damage from the oil crash is greatest.

The volume of sales, which excludes the effects of price changes and more closely reflects the industry’s contribution to economic growth, was little changed in June.

Output probably rose by as much as 0.2 percent in June, and it’s questionable how much consumers can contribute after that, said Benjamin Reitzes, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

“It’s just going to be mixed” for consumers, he said by telephone. “You still have the impact of lower oil and a generally sluggish economy, and we will see how job growth does,” he said.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has said the “underlying trend” of inflation is about 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent, reflecting slack in the economy. Today marks the last inflation report before a Sept. 9 interest-rate decision and most economists predict no move following two cuts this year including at the last decision.

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