Take stock – July 23

Canadian retail sales slipped in May, the second month in a row of declines but not as severe as in April, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.

Retail sales fell 0.2% in May: Statscan

OTTAWA — Canadian retail sales slipped in May, the second month in a row of declines but not as severe as in April, Statistics Canada reported Thursday. The decline of 0.2 per cent to $36 billion in May was weaker than some analysts had expected. There had been a two per cent decline between March and April and some had expected there would be a bigger rebound in May. Retail sales were up substantially year-to-year, however, from $34.2 billion reported in May 2009 when Canada was still in a recession. The agency said last May’s sales dropped from month-to-month in six of the 11 retail sectors it tracks as well as in five of the provinces, including Quebec. Building materials and gardening suppliers were off 4.1 per cent, while gasoline stations reported a 2.3 per cent drop as pump prices fell from April to May.

Sales of motor vehicle and parts slipped 0.5 per cent as a slight rise in new car sales failed to offset drops in used cars, parts and accessories, including tires.


West Fraser reports Q2 profit

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. (TSX:WFT) said Thursday it turned a profit in its latest quarter, boosted by higher prices and increased shipments. The lumber producer, whose holdings include Sundre Forest Products and West Fraser LVL near Rocky Mountain House, said it earned $63.3 million or $1.46 per diluted share for the quarter ended June 30 compared with a loss of $39.1 million or 91 cents per share a year ago.

Revenue totalled $772.2 million, up from $611.8 million. In its outlook, the company said lumber prices in the second half of the year are expected to be lower than in the first half of the year as low U.S. housing starts will continue to dampen demand. West Fraser said housing starts in Canada are likely to support reasonable demand for plywood, although increasing imports of U.S. plywood could temper price increases.

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