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OTTAWA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Canadian manufacturing sales jumped in December by the most in three months as gains in transportation equipment offset a sharp drop in petroleum and coal products, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
Factory sales rose 1.7 percent to C$52.39 billion ($41.91 billion), surpassing economists' forecast for a gain of 1 percent. November's sales were revised slightly higher to a decline of 1.3 percent from an originally reported 1.4 percent drop.
Excluding the petroleum and coal product industry, sales fared even better, rising 3.2 percent. The volume of sales climbed 2.9 percent.
Although the volume of petroleum and coal products sold increased as refineries ramped up production, a slump in prices took sales in the segment down 9.3 percent. Sales have fallen 24.1 percent since June, when the price of crude oil peaked.
Overall factory sales were led higher by gains in the transportation equipment industry, with sales of motor vehicles up 9.0 percent. The widespread declines in vehicle assembly normally seen in December were not as steep as usual.
New orders rose 1.5 percent as orders for transportation equipment surged, while inventories fell 1.4 percent on lower stocks in the petroleum and coal products, and motor vehicle industries.
($1 = $1.25 Canadian)
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Nick Zieminski