Manufacturing sales fell 0.4% to $58.6 billion in August, following three consecutive monthly increases.
The decline was mainly due to lower motor vehicle sales. Excluding this industry, manufacturing sales rose 0.4% in August.
After taking price changes into account, the volume of sales in the manufacturing sector edged down 0.3% in August.
Motor vehicle industry posts the largest decrease
Sales of motor vehicles fell 8.3% to $4.9 billion in August, following two consecutive monthly increases. The decline was mostly attributable to lower production due to atypical shutdowns in some assembly plants in August. In constant dollars, motor vehicle sales fell 8.4%, which shows that the decrease in current dollars mainly reflected a drop in sales volumes rather than lower prices in the industry.
Primary metal industry sales fell 2.9% to $4.4 billion in August, a third consecutive monthy decline. The decrease in August reflected lower sales in the non-ferrous metal (except aluminum) production and processing industry. Conversely, seasonally adjusted sales in the iron and steel mills and ferro-alloy manufacturing, steel product manufacturing, and alumina and aluminum production and processing industries grew in August.
Sales in the wood product (-3.4%) and food (-0.6%) industries also fell in August.
These decreases in current dollars were partially offset by increases in the aerospace product and parts (+13.5%), plastic and rubber product (+3.8%), machinery (+2.0%) and chemical product (+1.1%) industries.
Sales down in three provinces
Sales were down in three provinces in August, with Ontario posting the largest dollar decrease.
After two straight monthly increases, sales in Ontario fell 2.0% to $26.6 billion. The decline was mainly attributable to lower sales in the motor vehicle (-8.9%), primary metal (-8.4%) and motor vehicle parts (-1.8%) industries.
In Alberta, sales fell 0.8% to $6.6 billion, following three consecutive monthly increases. Most of the decrease stemmed from lower sales in the petroleum and coal products (-3.5%), electrical equipment, appliance and component (-24.6%) and primary metal (-9.2%) industries.
The largest monthly increase was in Quebec, where sales rose 1.3% to $14.2 billion. The gain was mainly attributable to an 18.9% increase in the aerospace product and parts industry and, to a lesser extent, gains in the plastic and rubber product (+8.6%), computer and electronic product (+12.2%) and petroleum and coal product (+3.4%) industries.
Inventory levels rise
Inventory levels rose 1.1% to $83.9 billion in August. Inventory increased in 14 of 21 industries, with the largest gains in transportation equipment (+3.4%), food (+1.9%) and plastic and rubber product (+5.6%).
These increases were partially offset by lower inventory levels in the primary metal (-1.4%) and wood products (-2.3%) industries.
The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.41 in July to 1.43 in August. The 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
In August, unfilled orders rose 0.8% to $94.8 billion, after edging down 0.2% in July. Most of the gain came from a 0.8% increase in the aerospace product and parts industry. Unfilled orders were also up in the computer and electronic product and the fabricated metal product industries.
After two consecutive monthly decreases, new orders were up 1.1% to $59.3 billion in August. An increase in new orders in the aerospace product and parts and machinery industries were behind this gain.
The capacity utilization rate edges up
The capacity utilization rate (not seasonally adjusted) of the manufacturing sector edged up 0.7 percentage points, from 79.5% in July to 80.2% in August. Following a 14.6 percentage point decline in July, the capacity utilization rate for the transportation industry increased from 73.4% in July to 81.5% in August. Shutdowns at several auto manufacturing plants were responsible for the decrease in July.
The capacity utilization rate of food manufacturers fell 2.2 percentage points to 81.0% in August. This decrease was attributable to lower production in most food industries.
The capacity utilization rate of the primary metal industry, which includes aluminum and steel, edged down 0.3 percentage points to 77.8% in August.
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