Canadian manufacturing sales increased 0.2 percent in April to $44.5 billion. Sales increases by primary metal and petroleum and coal product manufacturers were largely offset by a decline in the food industry. Manufacturing sales have risen in 8 of the past 10 months and have been trending upward since the low reached in May 2009.
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Constant dollar manufacturing sales decreased 0.1 percent in April following seven consecutive months of increases. Sales gains were reported in 11 of 21 industries, representing 67.8 percent of total sales.
In April, higher prices (+3.3 percent) were largely responsible for boosting manufacturing sales of primary metals 3.6 percent, marking the 8th increase in 10 months. Petroleum and coal product manufacturers posted a sales increase of 2.1 percent, partly attributable to some refineries returning to full production and a 0.7 percent increase in petroleum prices.
In the transportation equipment sector, which posted a 0.7 percent increase overall, the aerospace product and parts industry was up 7.1 percent. Sales in the motor vehicle industry decreased 1.0 percent.
The food product industry decreased 2.1 percent, offsetting some of April's gains.
Most of the gains in April were in the Atlantic provinces (+11.0 percent) and Quebec (+1.2 percent). Sales increased in Newfoundland and Labrador (+42.6 percent) and New Brunswick (+11.1 percent), both on the strength of the non-durable goods industries. Saskatchewan (+0.6 percent) was the only other province reporting a gain in manufacturing sales.
The increase in Quebec was widespread, including petroleum and coal products (+6.8 percent), transportation equipment (+6.3 percent) and primary metals (+3.5 percent). These gains were offset by decreases in the fabricated metal (-7.4 percent) and food product industries (-1.5 percent).
Sales in Ontario decreased 0.3 percent in April, reflecting falling sales in petroleum and coal products (-5.0 percent), beverage and tobacco products (-9.1 percent) and the motor vehicle industry (-0.8 percent). Offsetting these decreases were gains in primary metals (+2.5 percent) and the electrical equipment, appliance and component industry (+6.3 percent).
Manufacturers in Manitoba reported a 4.5 percent decrease in sales in April, reversing much of the 5.4 percent increase in March. Declines were reported in primary metals (-16.0 percent) and in electrical equipment, appliance and component sales (-67.2 percent). A 19.5 percent increase in chemical manufacturing sales offset some of April's losses.
Sales in Alberta decreased 2.7 percent following eight consecutive months of increases. The petroleum and coal products industry (-10.9 percent) accounted for most of the decrease. In British Columbia, sales declined 2.5 percent in April following a 4.2 percent gain in March. Decreases were seen in many industries, including food manufacturing (-3.0 percent) and computer and electronic product manufacturing (-14.6 percent).
Inventory levels increased 0.3 percent to $59.1 billion in April following a 0.7 percent decrease in March. The declines in inventories have levelled off since November 2009. The largest inventory increases were in the food industry (+2.2 percent), primary metal industries (+1.5 percent) and aerospace product and parts (+1.3 percent).
There were offsetting decreases in the chemical industry (-1.5 percent) and the petroleum and coal product industry (-0.7 percent). The inventory-to-sales ratio remained at 1.33 in April. The ratio has been trending downward since the spring of 2009.
Unfilled orders decline
Unfilled orders declined for the second consecutive month, falling 0.2 percent to $52.9 billion in April. Excluding the aerospace product and parts industry, unfilled orders increased 0.9 percent.
The decline in unfilled orders was largely driven by aerospace product and parts (-1.7 percent) and the fabricated metal industry (-3.9 percent).