Canadian manufacturing PMI expands modestly in February

Fri Mar 1, 2013 9:29am EST
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* PMI rises to 51.7 in Feb from 50.5 in Jan

* Output up for third straight month, highest since Aug

* Job creation bounces after Jan low, new orders up

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, March 1 (Reuters) - The pace of Canadian manufacturing activity picked up modestly in February, notching the strongest expansion in five months, according to data released on Friday, though growth was still slower than the historical norm.

The RBC Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index was at 51.7 last month after adjusting for seasonal variation, rising from a weak 50.5 in January. A reading above 50 represents expansion.

"The Canadian manufacturing sector fended off the February blahs with strengthening output and employment growth," Royal Bank of Canada's chief economist, Craig Wright, said in a statement released with the data.

Companies increased production in the month as new orders increased, leading many to hire more workers, the data showed.

But the slow pace of growth highlighted a broader economy that was struggling to live up to even restrained growth forecasts.   Continued...