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Canadian manufacturing sales fall in August after 3 months of gains: StatCan

OTTAWA – Manufacturing sales fell in August, following three consecutive monthly increases, but the decline was less than economists had expected.

Statistics Canada said Friday that manufacturing sales slipped 0.2 per cent to $52.1 billion in August due to a drop in the petroleum and coal industry as well as the auto parts and aerospace product and parts industries.

However, gains were made in motor vehicle assembly and wood products.

Economists had expected a drop of 1.0 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

TD Bank economist Jonathan Bendiner said despite moving slightly lower in August, the manufacturing sector has showed positive momentum in recent months.

“Looking ahead, we expect manufacturing activity to rise through the remainder of 2015 and into 2016,” Bendiner said.

“The combination of solid U.S. economic growth and a soft Canadian dollar should keep demand for Canadian-made goods strong.”

The Bank of Canada is expected to release is updated outlook for the Canadian economy next week along with its latest interest rate announcement. In the summer, the central bank predicted the economy would grow at an annual pace of 1.5 per cent in the third quarter, after contracting in the first half of the year.

Private-sector forecasts have suggested that the economy grew faster than that in the third quarter, with estimates of an annual pace of 2.5 per cent and higher. However, questions have been raised about how much of that strength will carry over into the final three months of the year.

Economist David Madani of Capital Economics suggested the manufacturing results released Friday hinted at an economic slowdown.

“Overall, while there are signs that certain manufacturing industries are benefiting from stronger U.S. demand reinforced by the lower Canadian dollar, softening domestic demand is hindering sales in others,” Madani said.

“With the fallout from the oil price shock still unfolding, we still have our doubts about longer-term growth prospects.”

Overall, manufacturing sales were down in eight of 21 main industries tracked, representing approximately half of the sector.

The petroleum and coal product industry saw sales fall 5.2 per cent to $5.1 billion due to a drop in prices and the volume in products sold.

Auto parts sales dropped 4.4 per cent to $2.5 billion, while the aerospace product and parts industry fell 3.5 per cent to $1.9 billion in August.

Motor vehicle assembly sales rose 6.7 per cent to $5.7 billion, following maintenance shutdowns in July, while wood product sales were up 5.1 per cent to $2.2 billion.

Sales declined in five provinces in August including lower results in Quebec, Alberta and New Brunswick, offset in large part by gains in Ontario.

Quebec fell 1.2 per cent, while Alberta dropped 1.9 per cent. New Brunswick decreased 7.1 per cent.

Ontario sales rose 1.1 per cent.