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INDUSTRY PULSE: Half of Canadian industries report dropping shipment levels

OTTAWA, Ont. The winter's economic malaise has affected shipment levels for more than half of Canada's industrie...

OTTAWA, Ont. The winter’s economic malaise has affected shipment levels for more than half of Canada’s industries. Eleven of the 21 manufacturing industries, accounting for 48% of total shipments, reported decreases in shipment levels in December, Statistics Canada records indicate.

The decline was concentrated in the petroleum and coal products industry which pulled down shipments of nondurable goods by 1.0% to $21.7 billion. Meanwhile, big-ticket durable goods manufacturers reported the first increase in four months, rising 0.4% to $28.3 billion.

"Milder winter temperatures in December, coupled with reports of higher than expected petroleum supplies on hand in the United States, contributed to the substantial weakening of the price of crude oil. As a result, the value of petroleum shipments retreated a significant 6.3% to just over $4.0 billion in December. Although this marked the first decrease in 14 months, shipments remained 33% above levels of one year ago," Statistics Canada notes in its Daily Bulletin.

A decline in orders for machinery in recent months contributed to a 2.7% drop in shipments to $2.3 billion. Strong demand had fuelled widespread increases in machinery manufacturing during the first half of 2004, but production has slowed since shipments peaked in August ($2.4 billion). The non-metallic mineral products industry also reported a 5.3% drop in shipments to $1.1 billion in December. The booming construction sector contributed to strong gains in the industry earlier in 2004.

Largely offsetting the lower shipments in December, manufacturers of motor vehicles boosted year-end production 2.3% to $6.1 billion. This was only the second increase for motor vehicle manufacturing in the last six months. Higher shipments were also reported by the beverage, paper and railroad rolling stock industries.

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