09/19/2013 08:40 EDT | Updated 11/19/2013 05:12 EST

Wholesale sales up 1.5 per cent in July, offsetting June drop: StatsCan

OTTAWA - Wholesale sales in Canada bounced back in July after a sharp drop in June, helping build the case for a strong comeback for the economy after a weak end to the second quarter.

Wholesale sales were up 1.5 per cent at $49.5 billion in July as sales in volume terms gained 1.4 per cent, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.

The gain came as the result for June was revised down slightly to a drop of 3.1 per cent compared with an earlier estimate of a drop of 2.8 per cent.

"Overall, the strength in today's wholesale report echoes the healthy reading for the month's factory print, suggesting July could be on track to recoup the ground lost in the prior month's flooding and construction strike disruptions," CIBC economist Emanuella Enenajor said.

The improved wholesale sales builds on a report earlier this week that Canadian manufacturing also rebounded in July to post at gain of 1.7 per cent.

The economy dropped 0.5 per cent in June as it was hit by the floods in Alberta and a construction strike in Quebec. The drop was the biggest monthly move down since the recession and held quarterly growth to 1.7 per cent.

Statistics Canada said higher wholesale sales were reported in four of seven subsectors, representing almost 70 per cent of sales.

In July, the largest increase in dollar terms came in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector, where sales rose 3.2 per cent to $10.6 billion, more than offsetting a decline in June.

The second-largest increase in dollar terms occurred in the building material and supplies subsector, where sales rose 4.3 per cent.

The miscellaneous subsector recorded a decline of 1.2 per cent, largely as a result of an 11.5 per cent decrease in sales of agricultural supplies.

Seven provinces reported higher wholesale sales in July, with Ontario accounting for almost 70 per cent of the total growth in sales.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada also reported Thursday that the number of people receiving regular employment insurance benefits fell 2.1 per cent in July to 503,900.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of people on EI dropped 5.7 per cent from July 2012.