OTTAWA (Reuters) - Higher prices and production in the petroleum products industry helped drive up Canadian manufacturing sales by a stronger-than-expected 2 percent in April from March, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
The market had expected a mere 0.1 percent rise, according to the median forecast in a Reuters poll. The sharp upturn followed a decline of 1.7 percent in sales at the factory gate in March, according to Statscan, which revised the previous figure from a decline of 1.6 percent.
Petroleum and coal products, helped by soaring prices, led the growth with a 9 percent jump. But Statscan said the gains were widespread, with 17 of the 21 manufacturing industries -- representing 80 percent of total sales -- reporting increases. Excluding petroleum, sales still rose 1 percent.
The volatile motor vehicles industry registered a 1.8 percent rise in manufacturers’ sales in April after falling sharply in March. Total sales excluding autos jumped 2.2 percent due in part to growth in sales of chemical products and machinery.
However, new orders fell 2 percent in the month while the accumulation of unfilled orders continued to grow, albeit at a sluggish pace of 0.4 percent. Inventories grew 0.4 percent and the inventory-to-sales ratio -- an estimate of the number of months required to exhaust inventories -- fell to 1.31 from 1.33 in March.
Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Frank McGurty