Canada Retail Sales Rose for Fifth Straight Month on Autos

Canadian retail sales rose for a fifth straight month in November, led by record car purchases, adding to some signs of strength in the world’s 11th largest economy at the end of last year.

Sales rose 0.2 percent to C$39.4 billion ($39.7 billion) after a revised 0.5 percent gain in October, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast that retail sales would be unchanged from the previous month, according to the median of 23 forecasts.

Today’s report follows other releases this month that have shown greater-than-forecast increases in employment, factory sales and receipts for wholesalers that may indicate a pick-up in growth in the last three months of this year after a weak third quarter when growth slowed to a 0.6 percent annualized pace. That was the slowest in five quarters.

“The indications of strengthening activity in November provide reason for optimism that, as we expect, growth will pick up,” Nathan Janzen, an economist at Royal Bank of Canada, said in a note to investors.

The volume of sales, which excludes the effects of price changes and more closely reflects the industry’s contribution to economic growth, rose 0.8 percent. Today’s figures point to economic growth of 0.2 percent in November, Janzen said, after a 0.1 percent gain in October and no growth the previous two months.

Mixed Data

Still, today’s retail data were mixed. While automobile and parts sales rose 1.8 percent to C$9.13 billion as sales of new cars rose to a record, purchases at retailers excluding car dealerships fell 0.3 percent. On that basis, economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast 0.1 percent growth.

The Canadian dollar fell 0.2 percent to 99.44 cents per U.S. dollar at 10:18 a.m. in Toronto.

Outside of November’s jump, sales volume growth has been relatively weak, according to Derek Holt of Scotiabank.

“The trend is still soft notwithstanding,” Holt, vice-president of economics at Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto, said in a note to investors.

Seven of the 11 retail categories tracked by Statistics Canada recorded declines in November, led by a 2.3 percent drop in receipts by gasoline stations as fuel prices declined.

Sales in November were 1.4 percent higher than a year earlier, Statistics Canada said, the lowest year-over-year rate since March 2011.

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