Manufacturing sales up 0.2 per cent in January

Canada’s manufacturing industry saw a slight lift in January as sales edged upward, the country’s data agency said March 14.

Statistics Canada’s latest data shows manufacturing sales rose 0.2 per cent to $71.1 billion in January, led by strength in the motor vehicle and chemical subsectors.

“Lower prices mean that the muted 0.2 per cent month-over-month rise in manufacturing sales in January was better than it looked,” said Stephen Brown, deputy chief North America economist with Capital Economics, in a note to investors.

His analysis was based on StatCan data showing sales were up in 11 of its 21 subsectors in January.

The transportation equipment group alone gained 4.3 per cent, while chemical added 3.5 per cent.

But the star of the month was the motor vehicle subsector, which had seen five consecutive monthly declines leading up to January.

The start of the year saw the subsector’s sales increase 19.6 per cent to $5.3 billion as production resumed in auto plants that had downtime for retooling in 2023.

“That strength was largely offset by weakness in several other key sectors, however, with sales of wood products, non-metallic mineral products, primary metal products and fabricated metal products all down by between three per cent and six per cent,” Brown said.

Aerospace products and parts also recorded a 16.7 per cent drop in sales.

“But overall, January’s strong points of the sales ledger were enough to outweigh large sales declines in primary and fabricated metal products and petroleum and coal products,” Kiefer Van Mulligen, a senior economist with The Conference Board of Canada, said in a note.

Total manufacturing sales in constant dollars rose 1.1 per cent in January.

Manufacturing sales increased in seven provinces in January, led by Ontario and New Brunswick, while Quebec recorded the largest decline.