TORONTO, April 2 (Reuters) - The pace of growth in the Canadian manufacturing sector firmed in March as output accelerated and new orders climbed, while purchasing activity rose at the fastest clip in almost seven years, data showed on Monday.
The Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ index (PMI), a measure of manufacturing business conditions, increased to a seasonally adjusted 55.7 last month from 55.6 in February. A reading above 50 shows growth in the sector.
Output picked up to 55.0 from 54.8, reflecting strong demand which prompted some companies to try to boost production capacity at their plants.
New orders held steady at 55.6, which marked 18 months of sustained expansion. The quantity of purchases advanced to the highest since April 2011, at 57.0 from 56.2, driven by rising production and efforts to build safety stocks.
Another solid rise in backlogs of work pointed to sustained pressure on operating capacity and input cost inflation rose to its fastest for almost four years, due mainly to higher prices for steel and chemicals.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr and Fergal Smith; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama