Canadian factory sales unexpectedly fell in February, leading to the biggest two-month decline since the recession, on plunging shipments from car and aerospace manufacturers.
Sales dropped 1.7 percent to C$50 billion ($39.9 billion), Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa, after a revised 3 percent decline in January. Economists forecast a 0.1 percent gain, according to the median of a Bloomberg survey with 16 responses.
The 4.7 percent two-month decline to start the year was the largest since 2009, highlighting the challenges faced by manufacturers even as the Canadian dollar has weakened. After dropping four of the past five months, sales have fallen to the lowest since January 2014.
The drop in February was led by motor vehicles, which plunged 15 percent, with the statistics agency citing closures for retooling in Ontario as the main reason. Excluding autos, manufacturing sales fell 0.1 percent.
Sales of aerospace products dropped 26 percent in February, Statistics Canada said, citing the impact of a stabilizing Canadian dollar. That was offset by a rebound in sales of refined petroleum products, which gained 5.7 percent, and an 8.2 percent gain in shipments of chemical products.
Sales fell in 10 of 21 categories tracked by Statistics Canada, accounting for just over 50 percent of shipments. From a year earlier, sales were down 1.5 percent.
Excluding price changes, a better indicator of the industry’s contribution to economic growth, factory sales fell 2.5 percent from the previous month.