Canadian manufacturing sales unexpectedly fell in January from December due to weak production in the aerospace, auto, and energy industries, according to Statistics Canada.
Although the number of new and unfilled orders rose sharply, factory sales dipped 0.2 per cent in January to $48 billion, the fourth decline in five months, StatsCan said.
Overall, seven of 21 industries posted lower sales in January, representing approximately 52 per cent of the manufacturing sector. Sales of durable goods sales declined 0.7 per cent to $24.1 billion, while non-durable goods sales rose 0.3 per cent to $23.9 billion.
Manufacturing sales fell in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. In Quebec, sales declined 2.7 per cent to $11.3 billion, the largest decline since July 2012, while Ontario sales were down 0.8 per cent to $21.6 billion.
The volatile aerospace sector, which typically involves large orders, influenced much of the manufacturing data for January, StatsCan said. A 19.7 per cent drop in production in aerospace products and parts pushed down sales in the transportation equipment sector by 3.8 per cent in January, with a slowdown in motor vehicle assembly plants playing a lesser role.
Sales in the petroleum and coal product sector decreased 1.8 per cent, StatsCan said, mostly reflecting lower volumes.
Unfilled orders increased 5.8 per cent to the highest level since November 2008, almost entirely due to orders for future delivery of aerospace products and parts. New orders increased 5.1 per cent, again due to aerospace.
Manufacturers continued to build inventories, which rose 1.7 per cent. As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio jumped to 1.36 in January from 1.34 in December.