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The Canadian wholesale services price index was up 2.3 percent in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter. This was the sixth consecutive quarterly gain. Of the eight subsectors, five were up and three were down.
The gain in the first quarter was led by petroleum and petroleum product merchant wholesalers (+31.5 percent), which registered the largest quarterly margin increase since the economic downturn of 2008. The increase coincided with the decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in late November to limit crude production, which drove crude prices upward.
Also contributing to the increase were higher margins for building material and supplies merchant wholesalers (+3.5 percent). Margins were up for plumbing, heating and air-conditioning equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers (+6.2 percent), general-line building supplies merchant wholesalers (+10 percent) and metal service centers (+5.1 percent).
Margins were also up for personal and household goods (+1.9 percent), miscellaneous (+1.1 percent) and motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories (+0.1 percent) merchant wholesalers.
Moderating the increase in the WSPI in the first quarter were lower margins for food, beverage and tobacco (-1.4 percent), farm product (-7.5 percent) and machinery, equipment and supplies (-0.3 percent) merchant wholesalers.
The WSPI advanced 4.2 percent in the first quarter compared with the same quarter in 2016.
Petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers recorded the largest year-over-year margin gain (+15.4 percent), as margins increased in the third and fourth quarters.
Margins were also up for building material and supplies (+6.4 percent), food, beverage and tobacco (+4.5 percent) and motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories (+4.1 percent) merchant wholesalers.
Personal and household goods (+3 percent), machinery, equipment and supplies (+2.6 percent) and miscellaneous (+2.2 percent) merchant wholesalers also posted gains.
Farm products merchant wholesalers (-9.2 percent) recorded the single year-over-year decline.