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INDUSTRY PULSE: December shipment gains widespread

OTTAWA, Ont. -- December's boost in shipments was widespread as 15 of 21 industries, accounting for three-quarters ...

OTTAWA, Ont. — December’s boost in shipments was widespread as 15 of 21 industries, accounting for three-quarters of total shipments, posted increases.

Nondurable goods industries, led by petroleum products, saw shipments increase by 1.7% to $22.8 billion, Statistics Canada reports. Manufacturers of big-ticket durable goods also reported higher shipments in December, rising 1.1% to $29.3 billion.

At 1997 prices, total shipments increased 1.2% to $48.3 billion in December, a sign that the increase was largely volume-based, in the current environment of rising industrial prices.

Following consecutive decreases in October (-2.7%) and November (-10.0%), the price-influenced petroleum industry regained some ground in December to close the year up 6.4% to $4.8 billion.

Petroleum prices settled back a further 2.1% in December, and have declined 14% since their September peak. Despite lower prices, December’s boost in shipments was partly due to the return by some refineries to full capacity following temporary maintenance slowdowns. Strong global demand for petroleum and coal products also fuelled the increase.

The end of short-term plant shutdowns in November contributed to the burst of activity in the motor vehicle parts industry. Shipments in December jumped 7.9% to $2.8 billion, following a 7.2% decline last month. Notwithstanding the sizeable gain, ongoing volatility in motor vehicle manufacturing continued to create some uncertainty for many parts manufacturers.

Partly counterbalancing some of the increase in shipments, manufacturers of aerospace products (-11.6%) and motor vehicles (-1.0%) closed 2005 with decreases.

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