The Canadian wholesale services price index increased 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Of the eight major wholesale sectors, five recorded higher margins and three recorded lower margins.
The largest increase in the fourth quarter was posted by wholesalers of petroleum and petroleum products (+11.7 percent). Declines in the selling prices of crude oil, diesel, gasoline and aviation fuel were outpaced by declines in purchase prices over the quarter, resulting in an increase in margins in the petroleum sector.
Wholesalers of food, beverage and tobacco (+5 percent) were the second largest contributor. The increase was mostly driven by margin growth among wholesalers of fish and seafood products (+43.7 percent), other specialty-line food (+7 percent) and general-line food (+5.8 percent).
Margin increases for wholesalers of building materials and supplies (+2 percent), farm products (+1 percent) and miscellaneous products (+0.3 percent) also contributed to the increase.
Moderating the increase in the WSPI were margin decreases recorded by wholesalers of machinery, equipment and supplies (-1 percent), motor vehicles and parts (-0.8 percent) and personal and household goods (-0.1 percent).
Year over year, the WSPI advanced 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The year-over-year gain in the WSPI was mainly attributable to margin increases among wholesalers of petroleum and petroleum products (+14.9 percent), farm products (+9.4 percent) and food, beverage and tobacco products (+8.6 percent). Higher margins for petroleum products, especially in the fourth quarter of 2014 when declines in purchase prices outpaced those in selling prices, drove the year-over-year increase in that sector.
Wholesalers of farm products posted their sixth consecutive year-over-year margin gain, as live animal merchant wholesalers (+15.6 percent) and oilseed and grain wholesalers (+10.2 percent) recorded year-over-year margin increases in the fourth quarter of 2014. Year over year, wholesalers of food, beverage and tobacco products (+8.6 percent) also posted their sixth consecutive gain, driven mainly by year-over-year margin gains for wholesalers of red meat and meat products (+31.7 percent), general-line food (+16.8 percent), and cigarette and tobacco products (+13.7 percent).
Margin gains posted by wholesalers of building materials and supplies (+5.5 percent), machinery, equipment and supplies (+2.1 percent) and motor vehicles and parts (+0.2 percent) also contributed to the year-over-year advance.
Year over year, the margins for wholesalers of personal and household goods (-1 percent) and miscellaneous products (-0.2 percent) declined.