* Wholesale drops 1.4 pct in Sept
* August gain revised to 0.3 pct from 0.5 pct, July revised down too
* Wholesale trade now down 2.4 percent from May level
* Autos lead decline but every sector falls
OTTAWA, Nov 20 Canadian wholesale trade in September dropped by 1.4 percent, the third decline in four months, led by autos but with every major sector registering a decline, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday.
It surprised markets, which had on average been expecting a 0.5 percent rise. Only one of 14 economists surveyed by Reuters had predicted a fall, and that was for only a 0.2 percent decline. September's drop was the biggest since February 2011.
The details were not much prettier than the headline. Statistics Canada revised down the previous two months: August's 0.5 percent rise was shaved to 0.3 percent, and July's 0.7 percent fall was revised to a 0.9 percent drop. Since May, Canadian wholesale trade is now down 2.4 percent. All figures are seasonally adjusted.
In volume terms, wholesale trade was down 1.3 percent. The auto sector fell by 4.0 percent, and excluding that sector, trade was still down 0.8 percent. The decline was widespread geographically too, with only Manitoba seeing an increase.
Inventories fell 0.4 percent, the first decline in 10 months, but the ratio of inventory to sales nonetheless rose to 1.26 from 1.25 in August.