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GM, Buick and Chevrolet vehicles at a dealership in Toronto on Oct. 1, 2014.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Canadian retail sales rose faster than economists forecast in September led by big-ticket items such as cars, furniture and appliances.

Sales rose for the first time in three months, by 0.8 per cent to $42.8-billion, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast a 0.5-per-cent increase, based on the median of 21 projections.

Consumer spending on houses and cars has helped sustain economic growth this year, as low interest rates fuel demand. The Bank of Canada has said high consumer debts and home prices are the main risk to the domestic economy, and business spending needs to take over to restore full output over the next two years.

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Motor vehicle and parts sales rose 3.4 per cent in September to $10.5-billion, led by light trucks, extending the gain over the last 12 months to 8.1 per cent.

Sales excluding cars and parts were little changed at $32.3-billion, as gasoline station receipts fell for a third month on lower prices, by 0.2 per cent to $5.39-billion. Furniture and home furnishing sales rose 1.3 per cent to $1.38-billion, while electronics and appliance sales gained 1.2 per cent to $1.26-billion, the fourth straight increase.

The volume of sales rose 1.0 per cent in September. That measure excludes the effects of price changes and more closely reflects the industry's contribution to economic growth.

Statistics Canada today also revised retail sales figures for the prior two months. The August sales decline was pared to 0.2 per cent from 0.3 per cent, and July sales were altered to show they were little changed after an earlier report they fell by 0.1 per cent.

Sales in September were 4.5 per cent higher than a year earlier, Statistics Canada said.

The agency also reported today that Canadian corporate operating profits rose 3.7 per cent to $90.2-billion between July and September, the third straight increase. Petroleum and coal profits jumped 25.7 per cent to a record $4.6-billion.

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