Canadian manufacturers had a strong March, following a slight increase in factory shipments in February, as previous supply disruptions caused by the rail strike and the refinery fire in Ontario were rectified.
In March, manufacturers shipped goods worth an estimated  ; $50.1  ; billion (Canadian), representing a  ; 2.8% gain over the previous month. For the first quarter, shipments were up  ; 1.0% compared to the fourth quarter of  ; 2006.
Using constant dollars, which take price fluctuations into account, the volume of shipments rose  ; 1.6% to  ; $45.1  ; billion, the fourth increase in five months.
Shipments advanced in  ; 15  ; of  ; 21  ; manufacturing sectors, representing about  ; 78% of total output.
Both durable and non-durable goods saw shipments increase in March. The petroleum and coal products industry continued to heavily influence the direction of non-durable shipments, with a  ; 2.2% increase in non-durable goods to  ; $22.4  ; billion. Durable goods increased  ; 3.3% on the back of strong automotive and aerospace production.
After a slight increase in February, the transportation equipment sector surged  ; 7.5% in March, recovering from the sharp loss recorded in January. Shipments increased to  ; $10.4  ; billion, slightly exceeding the recent high reached in December  ; 2006.
Unfilled factory orders, an indicator of probable future shipments, remained virtually unchanged from February, edging up  ; 0.2% and remaining at the highest level since November  ; 2001. New orders slipped  ; 1.4% in March, giving up some of the gains from the previous month.
According to the Labour Force Survey, manufacturing employment edged up slightly in March after having dipped in February. In general, employment levels in the manufacturing sector have remained fairly stable over the past eight months.
Motor vehicle and aerospace manufacturers rev up in March Transportation equipment shipments were up sharply in March, following a slight increase in February. The strongest increase was a  ; 13.4% jump in production of aerospace products and parts. Other than a  ; 13.0% drop in January, shipments have increased in four of the past five months.
The automotive sector also bounced back with the end of the rail strike and with new-model production kicking into gear. Motor vehicle shipments increased  ; 7.2% while shipments of motor vehicle parts gained  ; 4.3% in March. Overall, shipments in the motor vehicle sector increased about  ; $475  ; million.
Other areas which likely benefited from a return to normalcy in rail services included chemical products and non-metallic mineral products. Chemical product shipments gained  ; 1.0% in March after slipping  ; 1.9% in February. Similarly, non-metallic mineral shipments increased  ; 3.9% after having dropped  ; 4.8% during the previous month.
Other areas posting notable increases in shipments included the petroleum and coal product sector (+9.3%) and the primary metal sector (+2.3%). However, price was a factor for both of these industries. Petroleum and coal product prices jumped  ; 8.9%, accounting for almost all of the increase in value of shipments. Prices within the primary metal sector were also higher, gaining  ; 3.8% according to the Industrial product and raw materials price indexes. Export demand in Asia continued to be very strong, driving up the prices for products such as nickel and copper.
Strong gains in Central Canada In March, eight provinces posted higher shipments with much of the strength concentrated in Central Canada.