Canadian manufacturing sales decreased 0.9 percent to C$50 billion (US$38.7 billion) in March, mainly reflecting lower sales of transportation equipment and primary metals, according to Statistics Canada.
Sales were down in 16 of 21 industries, representing 88.3 percent of the manufacturing sector.
In constant dollar terms, sales were up 0.1 percent in March, indicating that higher volumes of manufactured goods were sold.
Transportation equipment sales fell 3.4 percent to C$10.8 billion (US$8.4 billion) in March, mostly as a result of lower production of aerospace products and parts, motor vehicle parts, and other transportation equipment.
Production in the aerospace product and parts industry declined 7 percent to C$1.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) in March, the third consecutive monthly decrease. The decline partly reflected an appreciation of the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar. Much of the data in the aerospace industry are reported in US dollars.
In the motor vehicle parts industry, sales fell 4.1 percent to C$2.5 billion (US$1.9 billion) in March. One factor behind the decrease in the seasonally adjusted sales was a slight decline in unadjusted sales for the industry. Normally, unadjusted sales increase in March, having risen an average of 11.9 percent over the last six years.
Other transportation equipment sales were down 31.8 percent to C$207 million (US$160.4 million) in March, reaching their lowest level since June 2010. Sales in this industry are volatile compared with sales in the transportation equipment industry as a whole.
Primary metal sales fell 5.6 percent to C$3.5 billion (US$2.7 billion) in March, more than offsetting the gains registered in the previous three months.
In the petroleum and coal products industry, sales rose 11.3 percent to C$3.7 billion (US$2.9 billion) in March, following nine consecutive monthly decreases. Gains were reported by most refineries, partly reflecting an increase in the prices of petroleum products, which were up 5.1 percent according to the Industrial Product Price Index.
Sales were down in five provinces in March, with Ontario posting the largest decrease.
Ontario manufacturing sales fell 1.9 percent to C$24.8 billion (US$19.2 billion) in March, the second consecutive monthly decline. The decrease was mainly caused by lower sales in the transportation equipment (-2.7 percent) and primary metals (-6.9 percent) industries.
Sales in Quebec fell 1.4 percent to C$11.5 billion (US$8.9 billion) in March, the third consecutive monthly decline. The decrease in March was the result of lower production in the aerospace product and parts industry (-9.3 percent) and lower sales in the primary metal industry (-6.3 percent).
The declines in Ontario and Quebec were partially offset by increases in New Brunswick, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Nova Scotia. Higher sales in these provinces were largely the result of gains in non-durable goods industries.
Inventories fell 0.4 percent to C$71.2 billion (US$55.2 billion) in March, their lowest level since January 2015. This was the fifth decline in eight months. Inventories decreased in 13 of 21 industries.
Lower inventories for aerospace product and parts, primary metals, and wood product industries were responsible for most of the decline. The decrease in aerospace partly reflected a stronger Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar. Inventories in the aerospace industry are mainly held in US dollars; therefore, currency fluctuations will influence their value.
The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.42 in February to 1.43 in March. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.
Unfilled orders were down 3 percent to C$87.1 billion (US$67.5 billion) in March, a second consecutive monthly decline. The decrease was mainly the result of lower unfilled orders in the aerospace product and parts, computer and electronic product, fabricated metal, and machinery industries.
In the aerospace product and parts industry, unfilled orders decreased 3.9 percent to C$47.4 billion (US$36.7 billion) in March. Part of the decrease reflected a gain in the value of the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar. Most unfilled orders in the aerospace industry are held in US dollars.
New orders were down 2.2 percent to their lowest level since September 2013. There were fewer new orders in the aerospace product and parts and primary metal industries.