(Bloomberg) -- Canadian factory sales posted strong gains for a second month in March, adding to evidence the economy is building some momentum after a slow start to the year.
The value of manufacturing shipments climbed 1.4 percent, lifted by increases in primary metals and aerospace products. That followed an upwardly revised 2.7 percent gain in February, marking one of the strongest back-to-back gains over the past decade. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News estimated a 0.9 percent gain in March.
The numbers suggest manufacturers are being helped by a weaker Canadian dollar, and add to a string of data -- including a pick-up in exports in March -- that suggest the economy has emerged from a recent soft patch in growth.
After a slowdown that began in the second half of last year, most economists are anticipating growth will return to an above 2-percent pace in coming months and prompt the central bank to continue with rate increases.
- Factory sales in volume terms were up 0.6 percent, following a 2.2 percent gain in February. Sales in volume terms are up 4.5 percent from a year ago and 6.4 percent in current dollars
- The numbers include a 2 percent drop in motor vehicle sales during the month. Excluding the auto sector, factory sales were up 1.8 percent in March
- Overall, sales rose in 13 of 21 industries, representing 72 percent of the manufacturing sector
- Primary metal sales rose 4.2 percent, while shipments in the aerospace industry were up 10.6 percent. Most aerospace sales are priced in U.S. dollars, driving up Canadian dollar sales because of the weaker Canadian currency, Statistics Canada said.
- Inventory levels increased 0.7 percent, the sixth consecutive increase. Inventory as a ratio of sales fell to 1.39 from 1.40 in March.
- Unfilled orders rose 1.5 percent, driven by the aerospace sector, while new orders dropped 0.7 percent following a 7.4 percent increase in February
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