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OTTAWA, Ont. — Statistics Canada says manufacturing shipments in January rose 0.3 per cent, to $45.0 billion.

Strong gains in the aerospace product and parts and chemical industries were largely offset by sizeable declines in the computer and electronic product, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts industries, the agency says.

Excluding the impact of the aerospace product and parts industry, shipments dropped 0.7 per cent in January.

It went on to explain that the new year greeted manufacturers with some uncertainty, as contract cancellations and market pessimism resulted in erosion of both unfilled orders and new orders in January. Unfilled orders declined 2.3 per cent to $48.6 billion, the third consecutive drop, while new orders decreased 1.3 per cent.

Manufacturers have shared in recently announced job cuts, Statistics Canada explains.

In February, manufacturing employment decreased by 22,000, for a total of 32,000 jobs lost over the first two months of 2001.

Weakening U.S. demand in recent months caused manufacturers to also cut back on their industrial capacity utilization rates. Manufacturers operated at 85.7 per cent of capacity during the fourth quarter, down 0.4 percentage points from the third.

Although uncertainty prevailed in various manufacturing sectors, there were bright spots, according to Statistics Canada. Shipments increased in 11 of the 21 major groups this month, representing 63.6 per cent of total shipments, and five provinces and the territories also reported higher monthly values.

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