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Canadian manufacturers shipped goods worth an estimated $47.7 billion, down 0.1% from September and the lowest level since December 2004. While the rate of decline has eased, shipments have fallen for three consecutive months. As has been the case in three of the last four months, falling prices have been a major factor in the decline in shipment value.
After taking price fluctuations into account, the volume of shipments was down 0.6% to $43.7 billion, the lowest volume of shipments in nearly four years.
Manufacturing shipments were essentially stuck in neutral with 10 of 21 manufacturing industries falling, 10 rising and 1 virtually unchanged in October.
Durable goods shipments turned around following three months of decline in the last four, rising 0.8% to $25.9 billion thanks to a strong showing in the machinery sector.
Non-durable goods shipments have declined on lower commodity prices for the past three months, falling by 1.1% to $21.9 billion in October.
According to the Labour Force Survey, manufacturing employment continued its downward trend in October, falling by 15,000 and down 83,000 over the first 10 months of 2006. The lion's share of the losses were experienced in Ontario and Quebec.
Transportation equipment fell 1.4% to $8.8 billion, the fourth consecutive decline and seventh monthly drop this year.
Despite a relatively strong month of automotive sales on both sides of the border, shipments in the motor vehicle industry fell 1.0% to $4.5 billion, the lowest level in over three years. This was due, in part, to a late start launching some 2007 model vehicles.
A combination of a slowdown in auto assembly and increased sourcing of parts from off-shore suppliers resulted in shipments falling from auto parts suppliers by 2.4% to $2.1 billion. It was the fourth monthly decline and the lowest level of shipments since June 1998.
Aerospace shipments fell 9.4% to $1.2 billion following strong quarter-end deliveries in September. Due to the high value of product of the aerospace industry, monthly swings of plus or minus hundreds of million dollars are not unusual. For the first 10 months of 2006, aerospace shipments were 4.1% lower than in the same period of last year.
Canadian refineries continued to produce at normal levels, but at reduced prices. Consequently, shipments of petroleum and coal products fell 6.2% to $4.4 billion. Prices declined by 6.3% because of burgeoning inventories of gasoline and crude oil in the United States in October.
Machinery manufacturing shipments rebounded from their lowest level in 14 months, with the single largest increase in shipments in October, an 8.6% jump to $2.7 billion. The machinery sub sector includes a broad variety of industries engaged in manufacturing industrial and commercial machinery.
Food manufacturing returned to normal shipment levels after an exceptional month in September. Food shipments fell 2.4% to $5.6 billion.
All Atlantic provinces but New Brunswick posted gains in October. New Brunswick,