Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg

Big-Ticket Spending Rolls on With Record 2016 Canada Auto Sales

Canadians bought a record number of cars and trucks last year, adding those big-ticket purchases to gains in the housing market that have propped up the economy.

Light vehicle sales rose 2.6 percent to 1.95 million in 2016, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. said Wednesday from Richmond Hill, Ontario. Sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and luxury autos led the gains, the report showed.

The Canadian economy has relied on consumer spending for growth in the last few years as commodity and factory exports faltered. Car sales have been aided by price discounts, as well as the low interest rates and longer loan terms that have fueled housing booms in Vancouver and Toronto.

“Even as the broader Canadian economy has struggled in the past two years, the consumer has just kept doing its thing -- whether it’s record auto sales or record home sales,” Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said in an e-mail.

The national economy’s growth is poised to quicken to 1.8 percent this year from 1.3 percent in 2016, according to a Bloomberg survey of forecasters. Consumer spending should exceed the overall pace as it has in most years through the last recession in 2009.

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