Higher Prices Boost Wood Product Gains

Manufacturing sales fell 2.1 per cent to $57.1 billion in April, on lower sales in 11 of 21 industries, says Statistics Canada. Much of the decline was attributable to lower sales of transportation equipment and petroleum and coal products. The machinery industry posted the largest sales gain, followed by the wood product and chemical industries. Manufacturing sales excluding the transportation equipment industry increased 1.5 per cent in April, the 12th consecutive monthly gain. Wood product sales rose 6.5 per cent to a record-high $4.9 billion in April, mainly on higher prices. Sawmills and wood preservation manufacturing accounted for most of the gain. Manufacturing sales declined in five provinces in April, led by Ontario. Alberta posted the largest increase. Total inventories rose 0.8 per cent to $89.2 billion in April and the inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.52 in March to 1.56 in April. The ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level. Unfilled orders edged down 0.1 per cent to $87 billion in April. The total value of new orders decreased 2.5 per cent to $57 billion in April, driven by lower new orders in the transportation equipment industry (-20.8 per cent). The capacity utilization rate (not seasonally adjusted) for the total manufacturing sector fell from 80.1 per cent in March to 75.6 per cent in April, driven by lower production.