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Canadian industries operated at 78.1 per cent of their production capacity in the third quarter, up from 76.9 in the second quarter.

It was the fifth straight increase since the record low rate of 67.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2009, though the current rate remains below pre-recession levels.

Statistics Canada reports the quarterly increase of 1.2 percentage points was slower than the gains during the three previous quarters.

The third-quarter increase was driven by the manufacturing sector, where the rate of capacity use climbed to 81.2 per cent from 78.7.

The rate of capacity use in the manufacturing sector has been on an upward trend since it bottomed out at 64.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2009.

Of the 21 major industries in manufacturing, 15 posted gains in capacity use in the third quarter while six recorded declines.

The biggest contributors to increased capacity use in manufacturing were the transportation equipment, machinery, fabricated metal products, computer and electronic products, primary metal, and food industries.

Among manufacturing industries in which capacity use fell, wood products, printing and related support activities, and non-metallic mineral products contributed the most to limiting the overall increase.