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Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.8 percent in April to $49.1 billion, the third decline in four months. The aerospace product and parts industry and the petroleum and coal product industry posted the largest decreases, while sales of motor vehicles rose to the highest level since November 2007.
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Sales fell in 13 of 21 industries, representing 45 percent of the manufacturing sector. Sales of durable goods decreased 0.7 percent, while non-durable goods sales declined 1 percent.
Constant dollar sales declined 0.6 percent in April, reflecting a reduced volume of manufactured goods sold. This was also the third drop in four months.
Production in the aerospace product and parts industry dropped 33.7 percent in April to $898 million, following strong gains in February and March.
Sales of petroleum and coal products were down 4.9 percent to $7.1 billion. This was the first decline after three months of increases. The decline was volume-based, as there were temporary shutdowns at some refineries and prices of petroleum and coal products rose 0.5 percent.
Fabricated metal product producers reported a 4.4 percent decline in sales to $2.9 billion, reflecting reduced sales in other fabricated metal product manufacturing and architectural and structural metals manufacturing.
Conversely, motor vehicle assembly sales increased 9.0 percent to $4.5 billion. This was the 9th increase in 10 months for the industry. Sales were at their highest level since November 2007.
Canada vs. U.S.
In the U.S., where manufacturing sales are referred to as shipments, sales fell 0.3 percent according to the United States Census Bureau. The decrease in April followed four consecutive months of increases. Shipments in the petroleum and coal products industry were down 4.4 percent, mirroring the decrease in Canada. This was the largest decline in the industry since July 2009. A 3.1 percent increase in the transportation equipment industry, reflecting gains in motor vehicle manufacturing, partially offset the decrease.
Sales declined in seven provinces in April, with Quebec posting the largest decrease in dollar terms.
Sales in Quebec declined 3.8 percent to $11.3 billion, following two consecutive months of gains. A 45.6 percent drop in production in the aerospace product and parts industry was largely responsible for the provincial decrease. Lower sales reported in the fabricated metal products (-5.3 percent) industry also contributed to the overall decline.
In New Brunswick, sales dropped 17.7 percent to $1.5 billion, following a 22.4 percent gain in March. Declines in April were mainly attributable to the non-durable goods industries.
Manufacturing in Alberta was down 1.9 percent to $6.3 billion, partly reflecting lower sales in the fabricated metal products industry.
An increase in sales in Ontario partially offset the overall declines. Sales advanced 2.4 percent to $22.9 billion, reflecting a 9.8 percent rise in motor vehicle assembly sales. Motor vehicle assembly sales have increased in 9 of the last 10 months. Sales increases also occurred in the chemical (+4.2 percent) and petroleum and coal products (+3.4 percent) industries.
Inventories rose 1.0 percent in April to $65.0 billion dollars, the first increase in three months. Gains were reported in 13 of 21 industries, and they were mostly concentrated in inventories of durable goods.
Inventory levels in the transportation industry advanced 3.2 percent to $9.5 billion, largely reflecting a 5.1 percent increase in the aerospace product and parts industry. The gains in aerospace product and parts were responsible for over one-third of the rise in manufacturing inventories.
An increase in inventories for the machinery industry (+2.4 percent) also contributed to the overall advance. Inventories of machinery have increased in 9 of the last 12 months and reached a record level of $6.8 billion in April, partly reflecting growth in mining and oil and gas field equipment machinery.
Unfilled orders remained at $62.6 billion in April, following a 2.1 percent advance in March. Excluding the aerospace product and parts industry, unfilled orders rose 0.6 percent.
A 1.1 percent decline in unfilled orders for the transportation equipment industry partly reflected a decrease in aerospace product and parts (-0.5 percent). Increases in the fabricated metals (+2.9 percent), machinery (+1.1 percent) and computer and electronic products (+2.9 percent) industries largely offset the decrease in transportation equipment. This was the third consecutive increase in unfilled orders for both machinery and fabricated metals and the highest level on record for these industries.