Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitoba manufacturing posts gains in June

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A REBOUND in sales in June has breathed some new life into what has been a sluggish recovery for Manitoba's manufacturing sector in 2012. New Statistics Canada figures released Thursday show Manitoba posted the second-biggest increase in manufacturing sales in the country in June.

Sales here grew by three per cent to $1.31 billion from the $1.27 billion in May. That left sales for the first half of the year running 1.6 per cent ahead of last year's pace after the first six months -- $7.7 billion versus $7.6 billion.

"Earlier in the year, there was a real sense the U.S. economy, and the private sector in particular, was coming back with a vengeance," said Ron Koslowsky, vice-president of the Manitoba division of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

That was good news for local manufacturers because the United States is Manitoba's biggest export market. But Koslowsky said the anticipated surge in U.S. shipments never really materialized.

"It's not doom and gloom, but it's not the big, dramatic recovery everybody was hoping it would be," he said. "It's been marginally positive, which is certainly better than going the other way."

Koslowsky said most industry officials are optimistic the growth in sales will pick up speed in the second half of the year.

He said a lot of U.S. companies seem to have their debt-equity ratios in order again, and employment growth and consumer spending are starting to pick up steam. That will hopefully lead to a growing demand for Canadian and Manitoba-made goods.

Nationally, manufacturing sales in Canada fell in June, dragged lower by falling oil prices and refinery shutdowns.

Statistics Canada said a 10.6 per cent drop in sales of petroleum and coal products pushed down overall sales to $48.9 billion in June, 0.4 per cent lower than in the previous month.

Economists had been expecting a gain of 0.3 per cent.

"Following the two previous monthly declines, some manufacturing sales growth was expected in June, so despite some upward revisions, this reading is a disappointment," TD Bank senior economist Jacques Marcil wrote in a note to clients.

"On the bright side though, most of the decline is centred in only one sector, petroleum and coal products, which was facing short-term, exceptional circumstances. Another silver lining is that the tough month faced by that industry led to lower inventories."

-- staff, with files from The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2012 B4

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