Canadian factory sales fell in January, an unexpected decline that was the fourth in five months, on drops in automobile and aircraft.
Sales fell 0.2 percent to C$48 billion ($46.9 billion), Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. None of the 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast a decline, and their median estimate was for a 0.6 percent gain.
Factory sales have stagnated since the end of 2011 when they reached about C$50 billion, and the central bank has said companies need to invest to regain competitiveness hampered by a strong currency. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said the budget he presents March 21 will cut forecasts for revenue and economic growth.
Motor vehicle sales fell 3.7 percent to C$3.72 billion in January, bringing the decline over the previous 12 months to 15.5 percent, Statistics Canada said. Aerospace and parts sales dropped 19.7 percent to C$1.14 billion in the month, still 22.4 percent higher than 12 months earlier.
Petroleum and coal fell 1.8 percent to C$7.05 billion, while food sales declined 1.3 percent to C$6.68 billion.
Saputo Inc. said March 14 it will close a 100-worker cheese factory in Warwick, Ontario, in June 2014.
Total factory sales declined 1.6 percent in January from a year earlier, Statistics Canada said.
Sales fell in seven of 21 categories tracked by Statistics Canada in January, accounting for 52 percent of production.
Excluding price changes, a better indicator of the industry’s contribution to economic growth, factory sales fell 0.4 percent.
Unfilled orders rose 5.8 percent to C$69 billion, the highest since November 2008, on a 10 percent jump in aerospace backlogs to a record C$39.6 billion.
Inventories rose 1.7 percent to C$65.4 billion, with the ratio of factory stockpiles to sales rising to 1.36 from 1.34.
New orders rose 5.1 percent to C$51.8 billion.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at firstname.lastname@example.org