Manufacturing sales increased 1.0% to a record $53.9 billion in March, reflecting higher sales in the transportation equipment and food industries.
Overall, sales were up in 16 of 21 industries, representing 71% of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Sales of durable goods rose 1.3% to $28.4 billion, while sales of non-durable goods increased 0.7% to $25.4 billion.
In constant dollars, manufacturing sales in volume terms rose 0.2%.
Transportation equipment and food sales lead the gains
Sales in the transportation equipment industry rose 2.1% to $11.1 billion in March, following two months of declines. The increase was the result of gains in the motor vehicle (+4.5%) and the motor vehicle parts (+1.8%) industries, reflecting higher volumes and prices. After removing the effect of price changes, sales in volume terms increased 3.1% and 0.5% respectively in these industries in March.
In the food industry, sales rose for the second straight month, up 2.6% to a record high $8.9 billion in March. Widespread gains in sales were posted in all nine food industries and reflected higher sales volumes, particularly in the meat, dairy and other food product industries. After removing price effects, sales volumes of the food industry increased 2.2% in March.
Sales in current dollars also advanced in the wood (+3.1%) and computer and electronic product (+5.1%) industries. These gains were widespread and reflected higher volumes and prices in both industries.
These increases were partially offset by a 1.7% decline in the petroleum and coal product industry to $5.0 billion, mostly reflecting lower prices. After removing the effect of price changes, sales volumes of petroleum and coal products edged down 0.2%.
Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta post the largest sales gains
Sales in Ontario increased 1.3% to $25.9 billion in March, largely due to the motor vehicle (+4.1%) and food (+1.8%) industries. These increases were partially offset by lower petroleum and coal product sales (-6.5%).
In British Columbia, sales grew 2.9% on a strong increase in wood products (+10.5%). Sales in Alberta rose 1.6% to $5.8 billion, led by gains in food (+3.9%).
The largest decrease was in Manitoba, where sales fell 1.9% to $1.5 billion, largely due to chemical sales. In Quebec, sales edged down 0.2% to $12.7 billion, mostly due to lower sales in the transportation equipment and wood products industries.
Inventories reach record high
Total inventories increased 1.2% to a record high $72.7 billion in March. This was the fourth consecutive increase in inventories, with 17 of 21 industries posting higher levels. The gains were attributable to the transportation equipment (+3.1%), beverage and tobacco (+9.3%) and machinery (+1.4%) industries.
The inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.35 in March. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.
Unfilled orders increase
Unfilled orders rose for the third consecutive month, up 1.8% to $90.2 billion in March. Transportation equipment (+1.3%), machinery (+5.2%), and computer and electronic products (+6.6%) were responsible for the increase in unfilled orders in March. Year over year, unfilled orders were up 3.8%.
New orders rose for a fourth consecutive month, up 2.6% to $55.4 billion in March. The transportation equipment, computer and electronic product and machinery manufacturing industries contributed the most to the increase in new orders at the national level.
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