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The assembly line Ford’s Oakville plant is seen in this file photo. In August, Canadian factor sales fell 0.2 per cent.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Canadian manufacturing sales slipped 0.2 per cent in August, reversing three months of gains.

Manufacturing sales added up to $49.5-billion for the month, with sales down in the miscellaneous, food and motor vehicle assembly industries, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

But those declines were for the most part offset by gains in the aerospace product and parts and primary metal industries, it said.

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Constant dollar manufacturing sales fell 0.3 per cent, indicating a slight drop in volumes, the agency said.

"Manufacturing shipments fell 0.2 per cent in August, a little weaker than consensus forecasts for a modest gain but broadly in line with our call," CIBC World Markets economist Andrew Grantham said in a note Wednesday.

"The 0.3% decline in overall volumes broadly matched the reduction in nominal terms, implying very marginal downside risk to estimates of August and [third quarter] GDP. But given the often volatile nature of this series, the slight downside surprise is probably not far enough from consensus to cause much market reaction."

The largest decline was in Ontario, where sales fell 2.1 per cent to $22.5-billion.

For the entire country, sales were down in 11 of 21 industries, representing a little over 40 per cent of factory sales.

Non-durable goods sales were off 0.7 per cent to $24.6-billion while durable goods sales rose 0.4 per cent to $24.9-billion.

"Manufacturing sales remain subdued with the dip in the volume of August sales leaving the measure 2.1 per cent below its level a year-ago," RBC Economics Research economist Nathan Janzen said in a note Wednesday.

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"Moreover, the details of today's report suggest that the manufacturing component of monthly GDP likely declined by 0.7 per cent in the month following a sizeable 1.1 per cent jump in July," he said.

Data released so far point to overall GDP growth in August of 0.2 per cent, slightly below RBC Economics' assumption of a 0.3 per cent gain, said Mr. Janzen.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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