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Canadian manufacturers cautious in January

Randy Weflen, owner of Wefi Surfboards steams thin strips of wood to bend them in order to build up the rails or side of the hollow wooden surfboards the entrepreneur makes in his shop in Lantzville, near Nanaimo on Jan. 10, 2013.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

A monthly gauge of Canadian manufacturing purchasing intentions improved marginally in January, the first increase since October.

The RBC-sponsored index was 50.5 last month

The index had been unchanged in December after dropping to 50.4 from 51.4 in November, the weakest growth in two years of data collection.

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A reading below 50 signals contraction while a higher number indicates growth.

RBC produces the survey in partnership with the Purchasing Management Association of Canada and Markit, a global financial information company.

The purchasing managers index, or PMI, found that output increased for the first time in three months in January, but new order growth slowed since December.

The rate of job creation also weakened, easing to a 12-month low.

"The Canadian manufacturing sector experienced a relatively lacklustre start to the New Year amid ongoing global economic uncertainty," said Craig Wright, RBC's chief economist.

"As some of the more extreme downside risk scenarios look less likely now, we should see confidence in the global economy improve, paving the way for a stronger recovery in Canadian manufacturing."

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