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INDUSTRY PULSE: Autos, lumber and aircraft pull down February’s exports

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Exports fell 3.5% to $38.3 billion in February, according to Statistics Canada.

OTTAWA, Ont. — Exports fell 3.5% to $38.3 billion in February, according to Statistics Canada.

Exports of passenger vehicles recorded the largest decline for the month, down 12.7% to $4.0 billion. Production slowdowns in January and weakening auto sales in the United States pushed values down for the month, reversing an upward trend that began in mid-2005, according to Statistics Canada’s report in the Daily Bulletin.

Exports of aircraft, engines and parts decreased by 34.1% to $889.3 million. This follows a spike in exports in December 2005 and January 2006 as contracts for planes constructed at the end-of-fourth quarter 2005 were fulfilled.

Lumber exports declined after six months of incredible growth, dropping 12.0% to $862.9 million. Lumber export values peaked in mid-2004 as a result of large price increases; however, record volumes were registered in January 2006. Strong construction spending in the United States contributed to the record-high volumes in January.

Energy exports declined for the second consecutive month after hitting a record high in December 2005. Exports of natural gas, crude petroleum and other energy products, which includes coal, refined petroleum and electricity, all declined.

The declines in prices of natural gas and crude petroleum dragged export values down, as export volumes, or exports adjusted for price, were up for both commodities in February.

Crude petroleum export volumes have been on the rise since October; however, the drop in crude prices in February offset the 4.5% rise in volumes for the month. Crude petroleum export values fell 1.5% to $3.1 billion from a record-high $3.2 billion in January.
Natural gas export volumes dove in January, were up slightly in February but this was offset by the second drop in 2006 of natural gas export prices. Reports indicated that inventories of natural gas in the United States were high as colder regions experienced unusually warm temperatures during the winter months.

Despite an 11.7% increase in coal exports, exports of other energy products fell 7.6%, primarily the result of reduced US demand.

Overall, agricultural exports were stable ($2.6 billion), as were exports of industrial goods and materials ($7.3 billion). Exports of other consumer goods rose 2.1% to $1.4 billion.

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