According to Statistics Canada, manufacturing sales rose 3.5 percent to $57.8 billion in March—the highest level since June 2019—on higher sales in 17 of 21 industries, led by the motor vehicle, petroleum and coal and food product industries. These were also the contributing industries from a volume perspective as constant dollar manufacturing sales rose 2.3 percent to $50.2 billion.
Following two consecutive increases, total inventories edged down 0.4 percent to $88.2 billion in March on lower inventories in the aerospace product and part (-3.9 percent) and machinery (-2.4 percent) industries. The declines were partially offset by higher inventories of petroleum and coal (+4.9 percent), fabricated metal (+2.2 percent) and wood (+2.0 percent) products. On a year-over-year basis, total inventories fell 0.2 percent.
The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.59 in February to 1.53 in March. The ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.
While unfilled orders were unchanged at $86.6 billion in March, the total value of new orders rose 5.2 percent to $57.8 billion following a 5.9 percent decline in February. The transportation equipment, petroleum and coal, and plastic and rubber product industries were mainly responsible for the gain. On a year-over-year basis, new orders were up 13.3 percent.
The capacity utilization rate (not seasonally adjusted) for the total manufacturing sector increased from 75.5 percent in February to 80.1 percent in March, the highest level since October 2019, driven by higher production.
Capacity utilization rates were up in all 21 industries in March, led by the transportation equipment (+8.6 percentage points), petroleum and coal product (+3.0 percentage points) and food product (+2.3 percentage points) industries.