May was a great month for the manufacturing sector in Alberta.
Statistics Canada reported on Tuesday that sales in Alberta rose 7.9 per cent in the month to $6.3 billion, with increases in 15 of 21 industries.
“Sales of petroleum and coal products (+25.2 per cent) led the gains, following multiple shutdowns at refineries for maintenance work in April. Excluding the petroleum and coal products industry, sales in Alberta rose 3.7 per cent,” said the federal agency.
On an annual basis, manufacturing sales were up 3.3 per cent in the province.
Across Canada, sales increased 1.4 per cent to $57.1 billion in May, following a 1.1 per cent decline in April.
StatsCan said sales rose in 14 of 21 Canadian industries, representing 64 per cent of total manufacturing sales.
“The chemical, machinery, and wood product industries accounted for most of the gains in May. The transportation equipment industry posted the largest decline,” it said.
“Sales in the chemical industry were up for the second consecutive month, rising 6.2 per cent to $4.7 billion in May on higher volumes of products sold. There were widespread gains in most chemical sub-industries, particularly in the pesticide, fertilizer and other agricultural chemical manufacturing industry.
“Machinery sales rose 8.9 per cent to $3.3 billion, following three consecutive monthly declines. Higher sales of other general-purpose machinery as well as commercial and service machinery led the gains.”
Statistics Canada said the petroleum and coal product industry declined for the fourth consecutive month, with sales down 1.8 per cent to $5.2 billion in May.
“Despite higher prices for energy and petroleum products, extended shutdowns at several refineries for maintenance and retooling work in Eastern Canada led to the decline. Volumes of products sold were down 4.7 per cent as a result of the shutdowns,” it said.
StatsCan added that manufacturing inventories rose 0.4 per cent to a record high $81.5 billion in May. Inventories were up in nine of 21 industries, representing 58 per cent of total manufacturing inventories. The increase was driven by the machinery industry (+4.1 per cent), followed by transportation equipment (+1.7 per cent). The gains were moderated by a 5.3 per cent decline in petroleum and coal products, added the federal agency.
“The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.44 in April to 1.43 in May. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.”
Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.