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OTTAWA, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Canadian manufacturing sales rose more than expected for the second month in a row in December, lifted by strong sales in the motor vehicle and wood products sectors, data from Statistics Canada showed on Tuesday.
The 1.2 percent increase topped economists' expectations for a gain of 0.7 percent, and matched November's upwardly revised figure. Volumes rose 1.3 percent.
Sales of vehicles were up 3.6 percent, the third consecutive monthly gain, as some manufacturers released redesigned models of popular vehicles in the fourth quarter. The higher sales were also facilitated by employees working overtime to meet customer demand at the end of the year.
Despite typical seasonal shutdowns for wood product manufacturers, sales rose 5.5 percent to their highest level in nine years as exports of lumber and other forestry products rose. The increased sales in the vehicle and wood products industries made up over half of the national gain for the month.
Inventories fell 1.6 percent due to decreases in the aerospace and petroleum and coal sectors.
For all of 2015, manufacturing sales fell 1.5 percent, the first decrease since 2009. The downturn in 2015 was mainly driven by declines in petroleum and coal products as energy prices slumped. Excluding the sector, sales rose by 2.6 percent last year.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Paul Simao