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The Canadian wholesale services price index increased 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. This was the fifth consecutive quarterly gain. Of the eight subsectors, five were up and three were down in the fourth quarter.
The gain in the fourth quarter was led by petroleum and petroleum product merchant wholesalers (+17.9 percent). This increase coincided with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)'s decision in late-November to limit crude production, which drove crude prices upward.
Also contributing to the increase were higher margins for food, beverage and tobacco merchant wholesalers (+2.2 percent), as higher margins for other specialty-line food (+5 percent) and fish and seafood (+17.1 percent) merchant wholesalers more than offset the declines for general-line food merchant wholesalers (-5.3 percent).
To a lesser extent, margins for building material and supplies (+1.2 percent), miscellaneous (+0.6 percent) and machinery, equipment and supplies (+0.2 percent) merchant wholesalers were also up.
Moderating the increase in the WSPI in the fourth quarter were lower margins for farm product merchant wholesalers (-4.8 percent), as a result of decreasing margins for live animal (-12.4 percent) and oilseed and grain (-4.2 percent) merchant wholesalers.
Personal and household goods (-0.6 percent) and motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories (-0.2 percent) merchant wholesalers also posted declines.
The WSPI advanced 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter in 2015. This was the 13th consecutive year-over-year increase.
Food, beverage and tobacco merchant wholesalers recorded the largest year-over-year margin gain (+9.9 percent), followed by miscellaneous merchant wholesalers (+7.9 percent).
Margins were also up for machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers (+5 percent), the seventh consecutive year-over-year increase.
Motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories (+4.8 percent), farm product (+4.2 percent), building material and supplies (+2.3 percent) and personal and household goods (+0.5 percent) merchant wholesalers also posted gains.
Petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers (-11.6 percent) recorded the lone year-over-year decline, following a 20 percent decline the previous quarter.