Despite a decline in the auto sector, manufacturing sales in Canada rose 0.6 per cent in June to $52 billion, according to new figures from Statistics Canada – the fifth increase in six months.
The increase is attributable to an unusually strong performance from the chemical industry, StatsCan said. The chemical industry increased 8.6 per cent to $4.2 billion, the highest level since October 2008.
“Much of the gain in June reflected higher than usual sales in the pesticide, fertilizer and other agricultural chemical sub-industry,” the federal agency said. “This year, colder and wetter weather in the Western provinces delayed planting, leading to some sales in this sub-industry shifting from May to June, which contributed to the stronger seasonally adjusted sales for the month. In addition, sales of pharmaceuticals and medicines also rose in June, contributing to the overall gain in the chemical industry.”
Excluding the chemicals sector, Canada’s total manufacturing sales edged down one per cent in June.
The nation’s auto sector, mostly centred in Ontario, sales fell 8.6 per cent to $4.5 billion – the first decrease after two months of strong gains, StatsCan said.
In Ontario, which accounts for nearly half of Canada’s overall manufacturing sales, there was a 1.3 per cent decline to $23.8 billion in June, following four months of gains – a decline attributed to an 8.5 per cent drop in motor vehicle manufacturing sales. Excluding that, sales for the province were up 0.5 per cent.
“Despite the decrease in June, overall manufacturing sales for the province over the first half of 2014 were $140.7 billion, up (five) per cent compared with the same period in 2013,” the agency said.
In addition to chemicals, there were also gains in petroleum and coal products, up four per cent to $7.6 billion; and food industries, up 2.2 per cent to nearly $8 billion. In addition to auto assembly and auto parts, there were declines in aerospace product and parts, down four per cent to $1.5 billion, and paper manufacturing, down 3.4 per cent to $2.1 billion.
Six provinces reported higher manufacturing sales than Ontario, StatsCan said, led by Alberta.
“In Alberta, sales rose 4.7 per cent to $6.9 billion, the sixth consecutive monthly gain,” StatsCan said. “Total sales over the first six months of 2014 were 9.6 per cent higher than in the same period in 2013.”
In Quebec, which has Canada’s second-highest level of manufacturing sales, there was a 2.3 per cent increase to $12.1 billion, following two months of declines. Most of Quebec’s gain in June was from higher sales in the petroleum and coal product industry, StatsCan said, although there were also increases in the chemical and primary metal industries.