* Sales dip 0.2 pct in January vs forecast of 0.9 pct gain
* Volatile aerospace explains drop in sales, jump in new orders
OTTAWA, March 19 (Reuters) - Canadian manufacturing sales unexpectedly fell in January from December due to weak production in the aerospace, auto and energy industries, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday, although the number of new and unfilled orders rose sharply.
Factory sales dipped 0.2 percent in the month, missing the market forecast for a 0.9 percent rebound after a 3.3 percent tumble in December - its worst performance since the 2008-09 recession.
The sales volume fell 0.4 percent in January from December.
The volatile aerospace sector, which typically involves large orders, influenced much of the manufacturing data for January.
The 19.7 percent drop in production in aerospace products and parts pushed down sales in the transportation equipment sector by 3.8 percent in January, with a slowdown in motor vehicle assembly plants playing a lesser role.
Sales in the petroleum and coal product sector decreased 1.8 percent, mostly reflecting lower volumes.
Unfilled orders soared 5.8 percent to the highest level since November 2008, almost entirely due to orders for future delivery of aerospace products and parts.
New orders increased 5.1 percent, again due to aerospace.
Manufacturers continued to build inventories, which rose 1.7 percent. As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio jumped to 1.36 in January from 1.34 in December.