OTTAWA-Canadian retail sales rose in January at the fastest month-over-month pace in almost seven years, in yet another sign the Canadian economy has momentum on its side early in 2017.
Statistics Canada said Tuesday that retail sales climbed 2.2 per cent to $46.0 billion, the largest monthly percentage increase since March 2010.
The loonie, as Canada's currency is colloquially known, had hit its strongest level in three weeks in morning trade after the release of stronger-than-expected domestic retail sales.
The Canadian dollar extended gains against the greenback immediately following the report and was recently at C$1.3276 or 75.32 USA cents.
Economists forecast a 1.5 percent gain.
"After a strong end to 2016, it appears as though the economy is off to a good start in 2017", said Benjamin Reitzes, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. The motor vehicle and parts industry rose 3.8 percent, making for the fourth gain in five months as sales rose at new and used auto dealers.
Factoring out the auto sector, wholesale sales increased by 0.3 per cent in January. Excluding this subsector, January wholesale sales edged up by 0.3 per cent. Sales for December were notably weak in seasonal items and there looks to have been a sharp reversal in January which suggests that some seasonal sales were held back and reported in January.