Motor vehicle and aerospace manufacturers rev up in March

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Transportation equipment shipments were up sharply in March, following a slight increase in February, Statistics Canada reports.

The strongest increase was a 13.4% jump in production of aerospace products and parts. Other than a 13.0% drop in January, shipments have increased in four of the past five months.

The automotive sector also bounced back with the end of the rail strike and with new-model production kicking into gear. Motor vehicle shipments increased 7.2% while shipments of motor vehicle parts gained 4.3% in March. Overall, shipments in the motor vehicle sector increased about $475 million.

Other areas which likely benefited from a return to normalcy in rail services included chemical products and non-metallic mineral products. Chemical product shipments gained 1.0% in March after slipping 1.9% in February. Similarly, non-metallic mineral shipments increased 3.9% after having dropped 4.8% during the previous month.

Other areas posting notable increases in shipments included the petroleum and coal product sector (+9.3%) and the primary metal sector (+2.3%). However, price was a factor for both of these industries. Petroleum and coal product prices jumped 8.9%, accounting for almost all of the increase in value of shipments. Prices within the primary metal sector were also higher, gaining 3.8% according to the Industrial product and raw materials price indexes. Export demand in Asia continued to be very strong, driving up the prices for products such as nickel and copper.

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