Manufacturing numbers continue to slide

OTTAWA — Canadian manufacturing sales declined 0.9% in September, continuing a weakening trend observed during the past six months.

The U.S. exchange rate continued to play a major role in manufacturing sales as the Canadian dollar appreciated 3.1% against the greenback compared to August.

Sales of manufactured goods decreased to $50.4 billion from the $50.8 billion reported in August, and reached the lowest level posted since October 2006. Additionally, third quarter sales were 1.8% lower than those in the second quarter of 2007.Using constant dollars, which take price fluctuations into account, the volume of sales edged up 0.1% to $49.6 billion in September; and on a year-over-year basis, manufacturing sales were 2.1% higher than in September 2006 on a constant-dollar basis.

On an industry-by-industry basis, 15 of 21 manufacturing industries decreased in September, representing about two-thirds of total sales.

Only six industries reported stronger sales in September, led by an 8.1% gain in the transportation equipment sector. Automotive manufacturers posted a 16.5% increase in sales after a weaker-than-normal August and aerospace manufacturers also saw an increase in production, with a 3.8% gain in September, following a similar-sized increase in August.Despite the gains in the transportation equipment industry in September, year-to-date sales were only 0.8% higher than in the first nine months of 2006.

Computer and electronic manufacturers led the widespread losses in September, as sales plunged 11.9%. This was a notable reversal as manufacturers in the industry had reported gains in each of the previous three months.

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