Food and motor vehicle manufacturers led the way as manufacturing sales advanced 1.2 per cent to $44.5 billion in March.

Statistics Canada reports constant-dollar manufacturing sales increased 1.7 per cent, their seventh straight monthly advance.  

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The advance in manufacturing sales in January was broadly based, with 12 of 21 industries reporting increases.

Sales gains were reported in 12 of 21 industries, representing two-thirds of total sales.

Food manufacturers reported the greatest increase in the value of sales, up 3.5 per cent over February.

The agency says most of the remaining sales increases for March were attributable to durable-goods industries.

Motor vehicle manufacturers reported a 3.6 per cent increase in March, their sixth advance in seven months.

However, the gain in vehicle manufacturing was largely offset by a 9.6 per cent decrease in aerospace products and parts production.

Other durable good sales increases included non-metallic mineral products (up 7.7 per cent) and wood product manufacturing (4.9).

Provincial gains were reported across the country in March, ranging from increases of 0.1 per cent in Quebec to 45 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Inventory levels fell 1.1 per cent in March compared with February.

The backlog of unfilled orders declined for the first time in four months, down 0.4 per cent to $53 billion.

New orders decreased 0.7 per cent in March to $44.3 billion. New orders fell in three key industries: computers and electronics, transportation equipment and machinery.