Manufacturing sales advanced 0.6% to $49.9 billion in December, the fifth increase in six months. The transportation equipment industry led the gain.
Sales increased in 12 of 21 industries representing about two-thirds of Canadian manufacturing. The gains occurred primarily in durable goods industries, where sales rose 2.1%. Sales of non-durable goods fell 0.9%.
In terms of constant dollars, manufacturing sales rose 1.2%, representing an increase in the volume of manufactured goods. This was the fifth increase in constant dollar sales in six months.
Manufacturing sales advance
With December's increase, monthly sales for 7 of 21 manufacturing industries have reached or surpassed levels recorded in October 2008, the onset of the recent economic downturn. The largest of the seven industries includes transportation equipment, food, petroleum and coal products, and machinery manufacturing. Combined, these four represented 51% of total manufacturing in December.
December's sales, at $49.9 billion, were just short of the pre-downturn total of $50.2 billion in October 2008.
For 2011 as a whole, manufacturing sales amounted to $571 billion, up 7.8% from 2010. The main contributors to the annual increase included higher sales in the petroleum and coal products, primary metal, machinery and transportation equipment industries.
Motor vehicle industry records highest sales since November 2007
Sales by motor vehicle manufacturers advanced 2.9% in December to $4.3 billion, the highest monthly sales level since November 2007. In addition, sales in the motor vehicle parts industry rose 5.5% to $1.9 billion. The transportation equipment industry as a whole had the largest dollar gains of any industry, with a 3.7% increase in sales to $8.5 billion. This was the seventh consecutive monthly increase.
Plastics and rubber products sales increased 7.5% to $2.1 billion, their highest level since August 2007. The rise reflected higher sales volumes.
Greater sales volumes were entirely responsible for a 2.7% increase in the primary metal industry to $4.2 billion, the third consecutive monthly gain.
The overall sales increase was partly offset by a 5.6% decline among petroleum and coal product manufacturers to $6.9 billion. A portion of the decrease was the result of a 3.7% decline in prices for petroleum and coal products, as measured by the Industrial Product Price Index.
Central Canada accounted for most of the increase
Manufacturing sales rose in four provinces in December. Most of the sales increase was located in Central Canada. Combined sales in Ontario and Quebec were up $741 million while sales declined $445 million in the rest of Canada. With the gains in December, Ontario, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan surpassed their sales levels recorded in October 2008.
In Ontario, sales rose 2.1% to $22.9 billion, the third consecutive monthly increase and the highest level since September 2008. The increase was largely the result of a 6.5% advance in the primary metal industry, a 5.5% gain in the motor vehicle parts industry, and a 2.3% rise in the motor vehicle industry. Gains in the machinery and miscellaneous manufacturing industries also contributed to Ontario's sales for December. A decline in production in the aerospace product and parts industry offset a portion of the provincial increase.
Sales in Quebec rose 2.3% to $12.0 billion, the fourth increase in five months. A 17.9% increase in the transportation equipment industry was behind a large portion of the provincial growth. The plastics and rubber products, machinery, and primary metal industries also recorded sales increases. A 13.5% decline in sales reported by petroleum and coal products manufacturers partly offset the gains in Quebec.
In Alberta, sales declined 3.5% to $6.3 billion, mostly as a result of lower sales in the machinery industry. After a sales peak in November, the machinery industry declined 23.4% to $776 million.
Sales fell 4.8% in New Brunswick and 10.0% in Newfoundland and Labrador, reflecting declines reported in the non-durable goods industries.
Inventory levels down
Inventory levels decreased 0.9% in December to $64.4 billion, the first decline after 14 months of increases. Inventories declined in 14 of 21 industries, with non- durable goods down 0.7% and durable goods down 1.0%.
Primary metal inventories declined 2.0% to $7.7 billion. In the food industry, inventories decreased 2.3%, owing in part to lower stocks in the grain and oilseed milling industry.
The declines were partially offset by higher inventory levels reported by motor vehicle, fabricated metal product, and chemical manufacturers.
The inventory-to-sales ratio fell to 1.29 in December from 1.31 in November. The inventory-to-sales ratio is a measure of the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.
The inventory-to-sales ratio decreases
Unfilled orders decrease
Unfilled orders declined 1.6% to $60.8 billion in December. The decrease was largely the result of declines in the transportation equipment (-1.3%) and the primary metal (-8.7%) industries.
In the transportation equipment industry, unfilled orders were down 1.0% for aerospace product and parts and 2.4% for railroad rolling stock.
Unfilled orders decrease
New orders decreased 2.8% in December to $49.0 billion, following a 4.2% gain in November. The decline in new orders was concentrated in the aerospace product and parts industry.
Note to readers
All data in this release are seasonally adjusted and are expressed in current dollars unless otherwise specified.
Preliminary data are provided for the current reference month. Revised data, based on late responses, are updated for the three previous months.
Non-durable goods industries include food, beverage and tobacco products, textile mills, textile product mills, clothing, leather and allied products, paper, printing and related support activities, petroleum and coal products, chemicals, and plastics and rubber products.
Durable goods industries include wood products, non- metallic mineral products, primary metal, fabricated metal products, machinery, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, transportation equipment, furniture and related products and miscellaneous manufacturing.
For the aerospace industry and shipbuilding industries, the value of production is used instead of sales of goods manufactured. This value is calculated by adjusting monthly sales of goods manufactured by the monthly change in inventories of goods in process and finished products manufactured.
Unfilled orders are a stock of orders that will contribute to future sales assuming that the orders are not cancelled.
New orders are those received whether sold in the current month or not. New orders are measured as the sum of sales for the current month plus the change in unfilled orders from the previous month to the current month.
A research paper, Analysis in Brief: "An Overview of the Lumber Industry in Canada, 2004 to 2010" (11-621- M2011089, free), profiling the Canadian softwood lumber industry is now available. The paper reviews the state of the industry from 2004 to 2010 and examines key economic variables such as sales, exports and employment.
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