* Utilization rate is highest since Q2 of 2012
* Manufacturing sector accounts for more than half the increase
OTTAWA, March 13 (Reuters) - Manufacturing and oil and gas extraction boosted Canada’s industrial capacity use to 82.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, up from 81.2 percent in the third quarter, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.
The rate, the highest since the 82.0 percent seen in the second quarter of 2012, was slightly less than the 82.2 percent predicted by market operators. Statscan revised the third-quarter rate down from an initial 81.7 percent.
The manufacturing sector, hard hit by weak markets and a strong Canadian dollar, accounted for more than half the overall increase. It operated at 80.7 percent of capacity, up 0.8 percentage points from the third quarter, thanks to strength in the transportation equipment and food sectors.
The oil and gas extraction industry’s utilization rate rose to 87.5 percent from 86.0 percent. The mining and quarrying industry posted a gain after eight consecutive declines, with the rate rising to 63.1 percent from 61.6 percent.
Compared with 2012, the average capacity utilization of Canadian industries fell 0.2 percentage points to 81.3 percent, the first annual decrease since 2009.