Strong Canada retail sales forecast adds fodder to rate hike argument

Inflation contiunes to raise concerns in Toronto

By Ismail Shakil

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales edged down 0.1% in November from the previous month before bouncing back in December, data published on Friday showed, adding to other recent data on jobs and prices that hint toward another interest rate next week.

The November monthly sales decline was less than the 0.5% drop analysts expected. By volume, retail sales were down 0.4% in November from October, Statistics Canada said.

In December, sales likely rose by 0.5%, according to Statscan's flash estimate.

The positive estimate for December "suggests sales recovered... as Canadian consumers continue to prove resilient in the face of aggressive rate hikes," Shelly Kaushik, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note.

The Bank of Canada has raised its benchmark interest rate at a record pace of 400 basis points in nine months to 4.25%, and said after its last increase that a decision to raise rates further would be more data-dependent. The bank will publish its next policy decision on Jan. 25.

Latest economic data shows Canada recorded a massive net gain of 104,000 jobs in December, while core measures of inflation in the same period were little changed compared with the previous month.

"Ongoing economic momentum will likely prompt the Bank of Canada to raise rates another 25bps next week," Royce Mendes, head of macro strategy at Desjardins Group, said in a note.

Money markets see a roughly 70% chance of a quarter-point hike by the Bank of Canada next week.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil and Dale Smith in Ottawa; Editing by Frances Kerry)