Food, Cars Power Manufacturing in March

Figures released Wednesday morning reveal that Canadian manufacturing sales recovered in March, largely due to gains in the motor vehicle sector and record sales in the food industry.

Statistics Canada says the 1% increase was in line with economists' expectations, though the gain in volumes was less thrilling at 0.2%. Sales for February were downwardly revised to a drop of 0.6% from an initially reported 0.2% decrease.

The agency reports that sales rose in 16 of 21 industries in March, accounting for 71% of the manufacturing sector. The transportation sector led the way, rising 2.1% as the vehicle and vehicle parts industries saw increases in sales volumes and prices.

StatsCan goes on to say food industry sales rose for the second month in a row, climbing 2.6% to a record high of $8.9 billion. Gains were broadly-based, with all nine food sub-sectors gaining, particularly the meat and dairy sectors.

The nation's number crunchers conclude that, overall inventories rose 1.2% to a record high of $72.7 billion, lifted by the transportation equipment and beverage and tobacco sectors. Still, the inventory-to-sales ratio, which measures how many months it would take to exhaust inventories at current sales levels, was unchanged at 1.35.