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GM workers use human assistance automation on vehicle doors at an assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., on March 19.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Canadian manufacturing sales rose 0.5 per cent to $60.3-billion in August, helped by gains in the petroleum and coal sector and higher chemical sales, Statistics Canada said Thursday.

The overall increase followed a decline of 1.2 per cent in July.

Total manufacturing sales in August were up 14.9 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

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TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said together with recent positive data including the September jobs report that the Canadian economy appears to be on track to record a solid rebound in the third quarter.

“However, the manufacturing sector still has significant lost ground to make up,” Abdelrahman wrote in a report.

“Looking past the monthly noise, sales volumes have exhibited a zigzag pattern since the beginning of the year. Shipment volumes remain far detached from their recent peak reached in March, let alone their pre-pandemic levels.”

Statistics Canada said in August that the Canadian economy contracted at an annualized rate of 1.1 per cent in the second quarter, its worst quarterly showing since the start of the pandemic.

However, the agency said last week that the economy added 157,000 jobs in September to put employment to its pre-pandemic level for the first time.

The August increase in factory sales came as petroleum and coal product sales climbed 7.3 per cent to $6.6-billion in August to reach their highest level since May 2019. Chemical sales rose 6.3 per cent to a record high of $5.4-billion.

Meanwhile, the ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips hurt the motor vehicle sector which saw sales fall 8.7 per cent to $3-billion in August and wood product sales dropped 17.1 per cent to $3.3-billion mostly due to lower softwood lumber prices.

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Overall manufacturing sales in constant dollar terms rose 0.6 per cent in August, indicating a higher sales volume.

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