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Manufacturing shipments show resilience in face of February woes

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Factory shipments edged down in February, Statistics Canada reported this week but when price fluct...


OTTAWA, Ont. — Factory shipments edged down in February, Statistics Canada reported this week but when price fluctuations are taken into account manufacturing freight volumes showed resilience despite the national rail strike and shortage of fuel.

Manufacturers shipped goods worth an estimated $48.5 billion in February, down 0.2% from the previous month but 0.1% more than in February last year.

Manufacturing shipments showed resilience in the face of a national rail strike and a fire which left central Canadian oil refiners scrambling to fill demand for automobile fuel.

Taking price fluctuations into account, the volume of shipments rose 0.1% to $44.3 billion, the third increase in four months.

Overall, shipments fell in 14 of 21 manufacturing sectors, representing 56% of total output.

Manufacturing shipments fell in five provinces in February, with gains and losses evenly split among the regions.

Shipments in Ontario edged down 0.4% to $23.6 billion. The largest decline was in the petroleum and coal industry, as a refinery fire hampered the province’s ability to supply fuel in the second half of the month. However, on the upside, the transportation equipment sector increased 0.9% to $7.9 billion.

In Quebec, shipments increased 0.7% to $11.6 billion, as improved shipments in the petroleum and coal and machinery offset widespread declines in 14 of 21 industries.

Alberta shipments increased 0.6% to $5.5 billion even though 12 of 21 industries reported declines. Petroleum and coal shipments increased 9.5% to $1.2 billion, on a combination of higher prices and stronger shipment volumes. The largest offsetting decline was in machinery, which fell 8.6% to $481 million.

In British Columbia, the decline in shipments deepened, falling 1.4% to $3.4 billion after a 0.5% drop in January. Overall, 12 of 21 British Columbia industries reported declines, the most significant being the wood industry. Only primary metals, miscellaneous manufacturing and non-metallic minerals posted significant increases.

Manitoba shipments rose 2.3% to $1.3 billion, with the primary metals and transportation industries bouncing back as increases in 7 industries more than offset smaller declines in the remaining 14.

In Saskatchewan, shipments fell 5.4% to $871 million on lower production of foodstuffs.

Shipments by manufacturers in the Atlantic provinces fell by 1.5% to $2.3 billion in February. New Brunswick reported the most significant decrease while Nova Scotia’s decline was a moderate 0.4%.

Shipments of durable goods dropped 0.5% to $26.5 billion on declines in the wood, machinery, computer and electrical equipment industries. Shipments of non-durable goods rose by 0.1% to $22.0 billion thanks to an increase in the petroleum and coal sector.


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