OTTAWA, Ont. — For the second consecutive month, the transportation equipment sector put the brakes on manufacturing shipments which dropped 2.4% to $49.7 billion in March, Statistics Canada reports.
This followed a 0.7% decline in February and largely wiped out the 2.6% gain manufacturers registered in January.
"March’s weakness in shipments was wide ranging; the majority of manufacturing industries (16 of 21) accounting for 80% of total shipments, reported declines. Excluding the transportation equipment sector, total manufacturing shipments were down 0.2%, but this drop was offset by high industrial prices for petroleum and coal products. Despite the slump in shipments, the backlog of unfilled orders rose by 2.1% to $39.0 billion in March, a two-year high," Statistics Canada reported in its Daily Bulletin.
The price of crude oil soared to new heights in March. Market angst regarding possible oil supply shortages in the United States sent crude prices to record levels by mid-month. The price of petroleum and coal products jumped 7.1% in March, and has risen 15% since the start of the year. As a result, price-inflated shipments of petroleum hit $4.3 billion, a jump of 7.3%.
March’s gain in petroleum shipments was responsible for the 0.9% advance in nondurable goods manufacturing which stood at $21.8 billion.
Ontario (-$1.1 billion) and Quebec (-$284 million) led the six provinces and the Northwest Territories which posted decreases in March. They were partly offset by higher shipments in New Brunswick (+$109 million) and Alberta (+$62 million), due to the strength in resource-based industries.
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