Canada March factory output up to post-recession high

Volume of sales rises 0.5 per cent

OTTAWA (Reuters) — Canadian manufacturing sales rose in March, by 0.4 per cent, for the third straight month and the sixth time in the last seven months, and registered a gain of 3.5 per cent from a year earlier, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.

Sales rose to a post-recession high of $50.92 billion, the largest since August 2008.

The median forecast in a Reuters survey of analysts had been for a 0.3 per cent rise from February, though estimates ranged from a one per cent drop to a 1.6 per cent climb.

The volume, or constant-dollar value, of sales rose by 0.5 per cent.

New orders declined by 19.9 per cent, their largest fall since the data series begin in 1992, though Statistics Canada said this was a matter of returning to normal levels after February's 17.6 per cent leap, which was fueled mainly by transportation equipment. Unfilled orders fell 0.8 per cent after a 15.4 per cent jump in February.

Sales rose in food, aerospace, machinery, plastics and rubber products, and computers and electronic equipment, but fell in paper and in petroleum and coal products.

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