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Canadian sales advanced 0.4 percent to $45.4 billion in December. Gains in the primary metal and petroleum and coal product industries were offset by a decline in aerospace product and parts. Manufacturing sales have been moving upwards at a slower rate in recent months, after increasing substantially between May 2009 and May 2010.
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Constant dollar manufacturing sales declined 0.5 percent in December, reflecting price increases reported during the month. Constant dollar sales have been relatively stable over the past seven months.
Higher sales were reported in 13 of 21 industries, representing two-thirds of total manufacturing.
Sales advanced 3.9 percent in the primary metal industry. The increase reflected a rise in prices and higher production at some plants following slowdowns.
In the petroleum and coal products industry, sales advanced 1.5 percent. The rise was driven by price increases. A 2.3 percent gain in the chemical product industry largely reflected higher sales of basic chemicals.
Sales in the food industry increased 0.9 percent. The rise was largely attributable to higher sales reported by manufacturers in the grain and oilseed milling industry.
The aerospace product and parts industry led the declines. Production in the industry fell 16.6 percent, the largest decrease in percentage terms since September 2009.
Sales decreases also occurred in the machinery industry (-2.0 percent) and the computer and electronic product industry (-3.0 percent).
New Brunswick led the provinces, with sales rising 28.7 percent to $1.6 billion, largely reflecting gains in the non-durable goods industries.
Sales advanced 3.3 percent in Alberta to $5.4 billion. Food (+9.8 percent), petroleum and coal products (+4.4 percent) and paper (+15.4 percent) were largely responsible for the gain.
A 3.9 percent rise in Newfoundland and Labrador's sales reflected gains in the non-durable goods industries.
Quebec led the provincial declines in December, with sales falling 2.8 percent to $10.9 billion. Decreases were largely concentrated in the aerospace products and parts industry (-21.3 percent) and the petroleum and coal products industry (-8.7 percent).
Sales declined 0.4 percent in Ontario to $20.7 billion. Decreases in the petroleum and coal products (-6.8 percent) and food (-1.9 percent) industries were partly offset by gains in the primary metal (+3.9 percent) and chemical product (+2.1 percent) industries.
In Nova Scotia, sales declined 2.7 percent to $877 million, largely as a result of lower sales in the non-durable goods industries.
Inventory levels remained unchanged in December at $61.0 billion. A large increase in the motor vehicle industry was offset by a fall in aerospace product and parts inventories. Despite remaining at the same level in December, inventories have risen in five of the past seven months since their most recent low of $58.6 billion in May 2010.
Total inventories held by manufacturers in the motor vehicle industry increased 38.7 percent in December. Interruptions in motor vehicle production, caused by severe weather conditions in Southwest Ontario in mid-December, led to a 77.6 percent jump in goods-in-process inventories for the industry. Increases in raw material (+6.8 percent) and finished product (+19.7 percent) inventories also contributed to the overall rise in total inventories held by motor vehicle manufacturers.
Inventories rose 2.2 percent in the machinery industry and 1.9 percent in the petroleum and coal products industry.
The aerospace product and parts industry (-7.4 percent) led the declines in total inventories. The decrease was mostly concentrated in the goods-in-process stage of fabrication.
The inventory-to-sales ratio edged down from 1.35 in November to 1.34 in December. The inventory-to-sales ratio is a measure of the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.
Unfilled orders fell 1.6 percent in December to $52.0 billion. Unfilled orders have remained relatively stable in 2010 after declining throughout most of 2009.
The aerospace product and parts industry led the declines in dollar terms with unfilled orders falling $264 million (-1.2 percent) to $21.0 billion in December. Excluding the aerospace product and parts industry, unfilled orders fell 1.9 percent.
The computer and electronic product (-5.9 percent), fabricated metal product (-2.6 percent) and machinery (-1.5 percent) industries also contributed to the decline.
New orders were down 1.9 percent in December compared with November. The main contributors to the decline included aerospace product and parts, computer and electronic products, fabricated metal products and machinery.