OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian manufacturing sales leaped by a much-greater-than-expected 4.5 percent in January from December as auto plants recovered from bad weather and the aerospace industry posted big gains, Statistics Canada data indicated on Wednesday.
The increase dwarfed analysts' predictions of a 1.0 percent increase. Sales in January hit C$47.7 billion ($48.7 billion), the highest since October 2008.
Sales of motor vehicles jumped 26.0 percent on large increases at a number of plants following seasonal slowdowns as well as production difficulties caused by severe winter weather in southern Ontario, home to much of Canada's auto industry.
The aerospace products and parts sector grew by 25.2 percent from December. Higher sales were reported in 17 of 21 industries, representing 87 percent of total manufacturing.
Unfilled orders rose for the first time in five months, rising by 1.6 percent on strength in aerospace products and parts. New orders increased by 8.6 percent while the inventory to sales ratio dipped to 1.29 from 1.33 in December, its lowest level since the 1.26 recorded July 2008.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by James Dalgleish