08/21/2012 08:45 EDT | Updated 10/21/2012 05:12 EDT

Wholesale sales down 0.1 per cent in June, Statistics Canada reports

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says wholesale sales fell slightly in June after four months of increases, mainly due to a drop in the agricultural supplies industry after a strong start to the year.

Canada's wholesale sales were down 0.1 per cent in June to $49.9 billion, the agency reported Tuesday.

CIBC World Markets said the general expectation had been for Statistics Canada to report an increase of 0.3 per cent and suggested the drop in wholesale volumes for the first time this year may be a warning.

"While auto wholesaling was strong yet again, the agricultural supplies category fell sharply – that’s marks a sharp turnaround following a remarkable run-up through the spring," CIBC economist Emanuella Enenajor wrote in a note.

"June’s report marks the first contraction in sales in roughly four months, and adds a bit of caution to this sector that has otherwise been posting hefty gains recently."

Sales were down in four of the five industries within the miscellaneous subsector, although the agricultural supplies industry was by far the largest contributor to the change with a 20.5 per cent decrease.

Excluding the miscellaneous subsector, wholesale sales rose 0.9 per cent in June.

The motor vehicle and parts subsector was up 2.2 per cent, while sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector rose by 1.3 per cent in June.

The food, beverage and tobacco subsector was also up 0.3 per cent in June.

In June, seven provinces recorded lower sales, although those losses were largely offset by higher sales in Ontario.