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Report on Business Canadian manufacturing sales up 1 per cent in January, ends streak of three consecutive months of declines

Canadian manufacturing sales ended a streak of three consecutive months of declines as they grew more than expected in January.

Statistics Canada said Friday manufacturing sales in the first month of the year rose 1 per cent to $57.1-billion, boosted by higher sales in the food as well as the electrical equipment, appliance and component industries.

Economists on average had expected an increase of 0.4 per cent for January, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

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“Canadian manufacturing started 2019 with a much-needed pleasant surprise,” TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman wrote in a report.

“The positive headline was boosted further by an impressive volumes print, broad-based sectoral and regional gains, and an upward revision to December’s data.”

Manufacturing sales in volume terms rose 1.4 per cent.

The better-than-expected numbers came after disappointing economic growth figures to end 2018.

The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate on hold last week after an unexpectedly weak reading for economic growth in the fourth quarter of last year. Growth in the three-month period slowed to an annualized pace of just 0.4 per cent, the slowest pace in two and a half years.

TD noted that despite the positive manufacturing numbers, it still expects a generally weak first quarter.

“Looking ahead, the manufacturing sector should receive some support from a weak loonie and continued growth south of the border,” Mr. Abdelrahman wrote.

Manufacturing sales were up in 15 of 21 industries, representing 55.9 per cent of total manufacturing sales.

Food manufacturing sales rose 2.8 per cent to $8.8-billion in January, after a 2.1 per cent drop in December, while the electrical equipment, appliance and component industry rose 13 per cent to $1.1-billion, after a 0.2 per cent move lower in December.

The aerospace product and parts industry fell 12.4 per cent to $1.9-billion, while the paper manufacturing industry dropped 2.7 per cent to $2.4-billion.

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