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Statistics Canada reports wholesale sales rose 0.7 per cent to $67.5-billion in February, even as sales were hurt by rail blockades and the early effects of COVID-19.

Economists had expected a decline of 0.4 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

In the absence of the blockades and COVID-19, Statscan says seasonally adjusted wholesale sales would have been closer to a 1.5-per-cent gain.

Sales in the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector gained 4.2 per cent in February, to $11.9-billion.

Excluding this subsector, Canadian wholesale sales were down 0.1 per cent.

Wholesale sales increased 0.6 per cent in volume terms.

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