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The Globe and Mail

Canadian manufacturing sales hit record high in November

New Ford Edges sit on a production line at the Ford Assembly Plant in Oakville, Ont., on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.

The Canadian Press

Canadian manufacturing sales hit a record high in November, driven by sales of transportation equipment, petroleum and coal products and the chemical industry, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The agency said manufacturing sales climbed 3.4 per cent to $55.5-billion.

However, TD Bank senior economist James Marple wrote that "with November's strength largely reflecting a reversal of earlier production interruptions, the path forward remains somewhat unclear."

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"Healthy job gains, rising incomes, and a strong outlook south of the border all bode well for manufacturers, but NAFTA uncertainty continues to hang over the outlook," he said.

Talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement are set to continue next week in Montreal.

"President Trump has continued to talk tough, threatening to pull out of the agreement," Marple wrote.

The Bank of Canada has noted that businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about the unknowns of the ongoing NAFTA talks.

However, the central bank still moved to raise its key interest rate target this week amid other signs of strength in the economy.

Statistics Canada said 12 of 21 industries, representing 81 per cent of the manufacturing sector, gained ground in November. Manufacturing sales volumes rose 2.5 per cent for the month after higher petroleum prices and other price changes were removed.

Sales of transportation equipment increased 9.1 per cent to $10.6-billion in November, following two consecutive monthly decreases.

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The rebound reflected increased production after motor vehicle assembly plant shutdowns in October. The motor vehicle assembly group climbed 14.2 per cent, while the motor vehicle parts industry added 11.3 per cent.

The petroleum and coal product industry also gained 6.1 per cent to $6-billion, primarily due to higher prices, while the chemical industry sales rose 5.9 per cent to $4.4-billion in November, after falling 2.7 per cent in the previous month.

Manufacturing sales were up in nine provinces in November.

Ontario climbed 5.8 per cent in November to $25.4-billion, while Quebec rose 1.2 per cent to $13.4-billion.

Manitoba was the only province to fall as sales slipped 1.0 per cent to $1.5-billion in November.

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