Manufacturing shipments take a step back after strong March

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Following a strong gain in March, manufacturing shipments edged slightly down in April, decreasing by 0.6% to an estimated $49.7 billion, reported Statistics Canada.

Excluding the motor vehicle parts and accessory industries, manufacturing shipments increased 1.0% in April. Shipments declined in 12 of 21 manufacturing industries, which represent about 51% of total output.

Durable goods dropped 1.7%, as shipments by automotive and aerospace products manufacturers slipped after a robust March. The decrease in durable good shipments was only the second negative result in the last seven months, while shipments of non-durable goods increased for the third consecutive month in April, rising 0.7% to $22.5 billion.

Shipments in the transportation equipment sector plunged 7.6% in April, offsetting most of the 8.6% advance posted in March. Excluding the transportation sector, shipments were positive for the most part, led by primary metals and petroleum and coal products. Meanwhile, unfilled factory orders, an indicator of probable future shipments, remained robust with a 1.9% gain.

The provinces were evenly split in April as substantial declines in Ontario and Manitoba were partly offset by higher shipments in Quebec and B.C.

Following March’s 4% surge, Ontario’s manufacturers posted a 2% decline to $23.9 billion in April. Shipments had been stronger than normal in March, due to the end of a recent rail strike that had impeded some industries in February. As a result, Ontario’s motor vehicle and parts manufacturers were among the top contributors to April’s decline.

Manitoba’s manufacturing sector also gave back most of March’s considerable gains of 11.8%, as shipments tumbled 10.4% to $1.3 billion. Shipments had spiked in March on the strength of several industries, all of which have since returned to more normal levels.

Offsetting Ontario and Manitoba, shipments in Quebec advanced 1.5% to $12.2 billion, the third successive increase. Resource-based industries were also the primary contributors in both B.C., 2.2%, and Saskatchewan, 7.8%.

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