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Manufacturing shipments soar in March

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Manufacturing shipments soared 3.4% to $47.7 billion as factory floors were humming in March, Stati...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Manufacturing shipments soared 3.4% to $47.7 billion as factory floors were humming in March, Statistics Canada reported today.

Nineteen of 21 manufacturing industries, accounting for 98% of total shipments, reported increases in March.

Shipments of motor vehicles accelerated 8.2% to $5.8 billion in March to lead the surge in shipments among manufacturers, Statistics Canada reports.

Also up sharply in March were the primary metals (+5.5%), fabricated metal products (+5.5%) and wood products (+5.2%) industries. Heated global demand and higher industrial prices in the primary metals and wood sectors have so far boosted shipment values in 2004.

March’s big boost in shipments, coupled with the small rise in inventories, triggered a sharp drop in the inventory-to-shipment ratio. From February’s 1.27, the ratio fell to 1.23 in March, a nine-year low. The ratio is a key measure of the time, in months, that would be required in order to exhaust inventories if shipments were to remain at their current level.

Healthy gains were reported by all provinces and the territories in March. Ontario led the pack with shipments of $24.8 billion, up $799 million (+3.3%). Motor vehicle, fabricated metal products and primary metals manufacturing contributed to the third increase in shipments in the last four months.

Quebec and British Columbia posted increases of $210 million (+1.9%) and $145 million (+4.6%) respectively. In Quebec, shipments were $11.2 billion in March, bolstered by large orders shipped in the primary metals and wood products industries.

British Columbia reported shipments of $3.3 billion, the highest level in just over three years. The key contributors were resource-based industries including paper and wood products.

US shipments soared 3.8% to $361.3 billion in March, the largest percent increase in shipments since the current series started in 1992. Increases in fabricated metal products, primary metals and petroleum were among the principal contributors.

Along with Canadian manufacturers, the US also enjoyed a stellar month.

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