Canadian wholesale trade in January unexpectedly soared by 3.3 per cent, its biggest monthly advance in more than seven years, on stronger sales of motor vehicles and parts, Statistics Canada data indicated on Monday.

The increase, far bigger than the 0.5 per cent gain forecast by analysts, was the greatest since a 3.8 per cent advance seen in November 2009 and pushed sales to a record $59.09 billion.

In volume terms, wholesale trade grew by 3.4 per cent, which is likely to bolster overall economic growth in January.

Sales were up in four of the seven subsectors, representing 55 per cent of total wholesale trade.

Sales in the motor vehicles and parts subsector leapt by 17.1 per cent, the biggest month-on-month gain since August 2005, breaking a two-month stretch of declines. Excluding this subsector, January wholesale sales edged up by 0.3 per cent.

The personal and household goods subsector increased by 3.0 per cent as sales of home entertainment equipment and household appliances shot up by 30.6 per cent. The miscellaneous subsector dropped by 1.0 per cent on lower sales by the agricultural supplies industry.