(Adds sector details, analyst comment)
By Leah Schnurr
OTTAWA, March 17 Canadian manufacturing sales
unexpectedly rose in January for the third month in a row,
driven by a gain in sales of non-durable goods, including
petroleum and coal products, data from Statistics Canada showed
The 0.6 percent increase in manufacturing sales topped
economists' expectations for a decline of 0.2 percent, while
volumes rose 0.7 percent. Sales were up in 14 of 21 industries,
accounting for 75.4 percent of the manufacturing sector.
The figures could bolster expectations for the strength of
the economy at the start of the year following a positive
hand-off from fourth-quarter growth.
"Importantly for GDP, volumes increased by 0.7 percent, and
now appear to be on the cusp of breaking out of the sideways
range they've been in for more than two years," Nick Exarhos,
economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a research note.
"All told, a solid first indicator for January GDP, and with
a strong hand-off from the fourth quarter of last year, (the
first quarter) is tracking a greater than 2 percent growth
pace," Exarhos added.
The petroleum and coal sector jumped 7.0 percent, lifted by
both higher prices and sales volumes. Stripping out the effect
of price changes, volumes for the sector were up 2.1 percent.
Chemical sales rose 2.5 percent, the third increase in four
months, on higher demand from farmers for pesticides and other
agricultural chemicals, which typically occurs at the start of
the season. Overall, sales in non-durable goods sectors rose 2.3
percent, while durable goods sales slipped 0.8 percent.
New orders jumped 4.6 percent, the biggest increase since
last April, on an increase in orders from aerospace products and
parts and vehicles.
(Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins and Dale Smith; Editing
by Paul Simao)