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Durable goods manufacturers boost shipments

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Canadian manufacturers of the big-ticket durable goods industries were primarily responsible for th...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Canadian manufacturers of the big-ticket durable goods industries were primarily responsible for the strong start in shipments in July.

Shipments of durable goods rose 2.4% to $24.5 billion, making up ground lost earlier in the year, Statistics Canada reports.

Manufacturers of nondurable goods increased shipments 0.7%, the first rise in four months.

Shipments of motor vehicles jumped 7.6% to $5.7 billion, leading all industries in July.

“Attractive incentive packages and low interest rates, as well as an improving economy in the United States, continued to fuel consumer demand for new automobiles in North America. Also, some manufacturers stepped up production in preparation for the new model year,” Statistics Canada comments.

Machinery manufacturers reported shipments of $2.0 billion, up 8.6% from June, as several contracts were completed and shipped from various plants. Meanwhile, higher industrial prices for primary metal products (+2.3%) contributed to a 3.0% increase in shipments of the primary metals industry in July. This was the first increase in six months, as the industry has been recently battered by high energy costs, weak industrial prices and the stronger Canadian dollar.

Decreases in the computer and electronic products and food industries partly offset July’s increase in total shipments. Shipments of computers fell 10.4% to $1.4 billion, the fifth decline in the last six months, and down from June’s quarter-end high.

Food shipments decreased 1.0% to $5.2 billion in July, the third drop in a row and the lowest level since March 2002. Some of July’s decline was concentrated in seafood product preparation and packaging, as the industry began to wind down for the season.

Key international export markets for Canadian beef products remained closed in July, the second straight month, as the mad cow scare continued. Animal (excluding poultry) slaughtering shipments in Canada edged up 3.3% to $664.9 million, following a hefty 14.8% drop in June. In July, some processors received cattle for domestic consumption, which contributed to the modest rise. Year-to-date shipments remained 12.3% below the same period of 2002.

Alberta has been hit the hardest by the closure of the international export market for beef products. During the first seven months of 2003, shipments of slaughtered animals (excluding poultry) remained 11.1% below last year’s level for the same period.

The first shipments of some low-risk cuts of boneless beef crossed the border in early September, as the United States agreed to a partial lifting of the ban.

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