Statistics Canada reported Friday that Canadian manufacturing sales fell 1.3 percent to $56.2 billion in April, following two consecutive monthly increases.
Sales were down in 10 of 21 industries, representing 49.6 percent of the manufacturing sector. Sales in the petroleum and coal products and transportation equipment industries accounted for much of the decrease in April. Excluding these two industries, manufacturing sales rose 0.4 percent.
In constant dollars, manufacturing sales in volumes declined 1.9 percent.
The petroleum and coal products and transportation equipment industries post the largest declines
In April, sales in the petroleum and coal products industry fell 10.9 percent to $5.2 billion, a third consecutive monthly decline. The decrease in April was entirely due to lower sales volumes, as prices for the industry rose 4.5 percent, according to the Industrial Product Price Index. Partial shutdowns at a number of Canadian refineries for maintenance work during the month were a major contributor to the decline in volumes sold (-13.2 percent).
Sales of transportation equipment fell 2.3 percent to $10.9 billion in April, largely due to weaker sales of other transportation equipment (-55.8 percent) and lower production of aerospace products and parts (-6.4 percent).
In April, sales were up in 11 industries, with the largest increases in the primary metal manufacturing (+3.8 percent) and food products (+1.9 percent) industries.
Sales down in six provinces
In April, sales were down in six provinces, led by Quebec and Alberta.
Following two months of increases, sales in Quebec fell 3.4 percent to $13.3 billion, mostly as a result of lower sales of petroleum and coal products. Decreases in the aerospace product and parts industry and the machinery industry also contributed to the provincial decline.
In Alberta, sales were down 5.3 percent, following a 0.5 percent increase in March. The decline was largely attributable to a 20.5 percent decrease in sales of petroleum and coal products, which resulted in part from partial shutdowns for maintenance work at some of the province's refineries.
Saskatchewan posted the largest monthly increase in April, with sales rising 6.7 percent to $1.5 billion. This second consecutive monthly increase was driven by higher sales of non-durable goods.
Inventory levels rise
Inventory levels rose 2.2 percent in April to $81.2 billion, a seventh consecutive monthly increase. The largest inventory increase occurred in the petroleum and coal products industry (+6.6 percent). Inventory levels also rose in the transportation equipment (+2.2 percent), machinery (+3.7 percent) and food products (+2.9 percent) industries.
The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.40 in March to 1.44 in April. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.
Unfilled orders increase
In April, unfilled orders increased 1.3 percent to $90.0 billion, a third consecutive monthly increase. Most of the gain came from a 1.8 percent increase in the aerospace product and parts industry. Unfilled orders were also up in the fabricated metal products industry.
New orders fell 1.6 percent to $57.4 billion in April. This decline was mainly the result of lower new orders in the petroleum and coal products and in the aerospace product and parts industries.