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Higher sales were reported in 9 of 21 industries, representing 48.9% of total sales.
Industries manufacturing durable goods saw sales rise 1.6% in May, more than enough to counterbalance the 0.7% drop in the non-durable goods sector. Lower industrial prices in petroleum contributed to the decrease in non-durable goods.
In the transportation equipment sector, which posted a 3.1% increase overall, the motor vehicle industry was up 4.6%, while motor vehicle parts manufacturing increased 2.8%. Other increases in May included miscellaneous manufacturing (+17.9%) and the food industry (+1.5%).
Ontario (+1.5%) and British Columbia (+2.1%) led the five provinces posting higher sales in absolute terms in May. Nova Scotia (+2.9%), Alberta (+0.3%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+0.6%) also posted gains.
Higher sales in Ontario were largely attributable to the motor vehicle (+4.5%) and motor vehicle parts (+2.7%) industries, as well as the miscellaneous manufacturing (+35.6%) industry. Manufacturing activity in Ontario has increased in five of the past six months.
In British Columbia, sales increased in paper manufacturing (+6.0%) and computer and electronic product manufacturing (+25.3%).
Sales were down in Quebec (-0.8%), New Brunswick (-5.3%), Saskatchewan (-1.7%), Prince Edward Island (-7.7%) and Manitoba (-0.5%) in May.
In Quebec, manufacturing sales were down in May following a 1.1% increase in April. An 8.4% sales decrease in the petroleum and coal product industry was price and volume based. The chemical industry (-7.4%) also contributed to lower sales.
Manufacturers in New Brunswick also posted lower sales following a strong April. Much of the decline was concentrated in the durable goods sector.
Inventory levels decreased 0.7% to $58.5 billion in May following a 0.1% rise in April. The largest inventory decline was in the petroleum and coal product industry (-15.5%). This was partially offset by a 3.4% increase in the fabricated metal product industry.
The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased to 1.30 in May, the lowest level since July 2008. The ratio continued the downward trend which began in the spring of 2009.
Unfilled orders increased 1.3% to $53.4 billion in May. This advance was largely driven by the aerospace product and parts (+1.2%) and the machinery manufacturing industries (+3.0%).
New orders increased 2.5% to $45.5 billion in May. Most of the increases were in the aerospace product and parts, fabricated metal product and machinery manufacturing industries.