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A fabricator works at George Third & Son Steel Fabricators and Erectors in Burnaby, B.C., on March 29, 2018.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Canadian manufacturing sales rose by a record 20.7 per cent in June as many factories operated at a much higher capacity than in May, although total sales were still well below prepandemic levels, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

It was the second month of record gains as Canada’s manufacturing sector continued to dig out from deep declines in April amid coronavirus shutdowns. The gain beat analyst expectations of 16.4 per cent.

Statscan also revised May’s gain up to 11.6 per cent from 10.7 per cent.

Sales were up in all 21 industries monitored by Statscan, led by the motor vehicle and parts industries as most plants returned to full production, the agency said. Excluding those two industries, manufacturing sales were still up 10.3 per cent.

In volume terms, manufacturing sales rose by 18.4 per cent. But sales still remain 13.2 per cent below prepandemic levels and were down a record 22.8 per cent for the second quarter, dragged down by April’s plunge.

And the recovery will likely be more gradual going forward, particularly if the recovery in the United States, Canada’s largest trading partner, stalls amid rising COVID-19 cases, said Andrew Grantham, a senior economist at CIBC World Markets.

That “could dampen a key source of demand for many Canadian manufacturers,” he said in a note.

The loonie was trading 0.1 per cent lower at 1.3234 to the greenback, or 75.56 U.S. cents, but holding on to much of this week’s gains.

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