Canadian manufacturing sales bounced back in November after a dismal performance in October, offering a glimmer of hope for growth amid a string of disappointing data and weak global demand for the country's goods.
Factory sales climbed 1.7 per cent in the month, above forecasts for a 1-per-cent gain, on strength in the transportation equipment, primary metal and chemical industries, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
That more than compensated for the 1.2-per-cent slump in sales in October but still left sales below the peak registered just before the 2008-09 recession.
The report supports forecasts of modest economic growth in November and an improvement in the fourth quarter compared with the third, said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at RBC Economics.
"Despite this strengthening, however, the pace of growth is modest and suggests a limited prospect of any further materially downward pressure being exerted on the unemployment rate," he said in a research note.
"As a result, the Bank of Canada is likely to continue to keep monetary conditions highly accommodative," he said.
Canada fared better than the United States and other major economies during the global recession and has since recovered all the lost jobs and output, but exports and manufacturing have yet to make a full comeback.
Mr. Ferley sees gross domestic product advancing between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent in November and fourth-quarter annualized growth of 1.5 per cent at best, well below the Bank of Canada's projection of 2.5 per cent.
TD Securities economist Mazen Issa sees a risk that growth will even come in below his estimate of 1.2 per cent.
The central bank is due to revise its forecasts next week, when it is also unanimously expected to keep its benchmark interest rate on hold at 1.0 per cent.
Manufacturing output is likely to have contracted in the fourth quarter as a whole unless there is a huge gain in December, said Scotia Capital economists Derek Holt and Dov Zigler.
"Indeed, one good month still leaves us tracking a very poor quarter," they said in a note.
In volume terms, manufacturing sales rose 1.6 per cent. And although motor vehicles accounted for much of the increase, there were gains in 12 of 21 sectors.
New orders for factory goods shot up 6.2 per cent and unfilled orders advanced 3.6 per cent to their highest level since March 2009, Statscan said.
Inventories fell 0.8 per cent in the month while the inventory-to-sales ratio, which measures the months it would take to exhaust stock at the current sales level, dropped to 1.31 from 1.35 in October.