Take stock – April 24

Retail sales edged up 0.2 per cent in February to $33.7 billion. Statistics Canada reports the growth follows large declines in November and December and a partial recovery in January.

Retail sales edge upward in February after large declines

Retail sales edged up 0.2 per cent in February to $33.7 billion. Statistics Canada reports the growth follows large declines in November and December and a partial recovery in January. The agency says February’s slight increase was price-driven, as sales were down 0.3% in volume terms. Sales rose in five of eight retail sectors. The largest contributors to the increase in February were building and outdoor home supplies stores, up three per cent, and food-and-beverage stores, up 0.7 per cent, largely on higher sales at beer, wine and liquor stores. The largest decline was a 1.9 per cent decrease in sales at furniture, home furnishings and electronics stores in February. Sales rose in five provinces, with gains in Quebec (1.1 per cent) and Ontario (one per cent) providing the largest contribution to the increase. Offsetting these advances were declines in Alberta and British Columbia, which both fell by 1.3 per cent.

Farmers playing ‘dangerous game’ cutting fertilizer use: Potash CEO

The world is setting itself up for a hungry future as farmers play “a dangerous game” by skimping on fertilizer, the chief executive of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX:POT) said Thursday after a “terrible” first quarter in which sales fell by more than half from a year ago. The market will turn quickly, Bill Doyle predicted after the world’s biggest fertilizer producer, reporting in U.S. dollars, said quarterly earnings withered to $308.3 million or $1.02 per share. This was down 46 per cent from a bonanza year-ago profit of $566 million or $1.74 per share. “While economic conditions have been the focus for most people in recent months, the world’s attention must return to the science of food production,” he declared.

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