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OTTAWA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Canadian manufacturing sales decreased far less than expected in August after three consecutive months of gains, weighed by lower sales of petroleum and coal products, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.
Factory sales fell 0.2 percent, not as steep as the 1.0 percent decline economists had forecast. Sales were down in eight out of the 21 main industries, accounting for about half the sector. In volume terms, sales fell by 0.1 percent.
Sales declined for a third consecutive month in the petroleum and coal product sector, falling 5.2 percent as both prices and the volume of products sold declined.
The steep drop in the price of oil, a major export for Canada, put the country in a mild recession in the first half of the year but economists and policymakers expect growth picked back up in the second half of 2015.
The decline in factory sales in August was tempered by a 6.7 percent increase in sales in the motor vehicle assembly industry after maintenance shutdowns in July.
New orders tumbled 5.6 percent due to declines in the aerospace product and parts sector, while overall inventories rose 0.5 percent.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama