The Canadian wholesale services price index (WSPI) was down 0.9 percent in the third quarter, with five of the eight subsectors posting margin declines. The last quarterly decline of the index occurred in the first quarter of 2015.
The decrease in the WSPI in the third quarter of 2017 was led by petroleum and petroleum product merchant wholesalers (-13.9 percent), as margins for this subsector declined following three consecutive quarterly gains.
Also contributing to the decline in the WSPI in the third quarter were miscellaneous merchant wholesalers (-3.4 percent) as decreases were widespread across most industries in this subsector. The two leading contributors to this decline were recyclable metal and chemical (except agricultural) and allied product merchant wholesalers. Margins for food, beverage and tobacco merchant wholesalers (-2.1 percent) also decreased as a result of lower margins for other specialty-line food and general-line food merchant wholesalers.
The fall in the WSPI was also attributable to lower margins for personal and household goods merchant wholesalers (-0.8 percent) and, to a lesser extent, for farm product merchant wholesalers (-0.8 percent).
Moderating the quarterly decrease in the WSPI were machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers (+2.6 percent), as margin gains were recorded for computer, computer peripheral and pre-packaged software, professional machinery, equipment and supplies, and mining and oil and gas well machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers.
Margin gains were also registered by building material and supplies merchant wholesalers (+2.5 percent), primarily as a result of higher margins for metal service centers.
Margins for motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories (+2.4 percent) were up as a result of higher margins for new and used automobile and light-duty truck and other new motor vehicle parts and accessories merchant wholesalers.
The WSPI increased 3.9 percent in the third quarter compared with the same quarter in 2016, as margin gains were widespread across seven of the eight subsectors. This was the 16th consecutive year-over-year increase.
Petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers posted the largest year-over-year margin gain (+50.4 percent) since the inception of the WSPI, surpassing the margin gain (+39.2 percent) registered in the previous quarter. This was partly as a result of low margins recorded in the same quarter of 2016.
Margins were also up for building material and supplies (+4.6 percent), personal and household goods (+2.1 percent), miscellaneous (+1.6 percent), food, beverage and tobacco (+0.8 percent), machinery, equipment and supplies (+0.7 percent) and motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories (+0.3 percent) merchant wholesalers.
Farm products merchant wholesalers (-12.2 percent) recorded the only year-over-year margin decline.