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Canada's manufacturing sales blew past expectations to grow 1.9 percent in March from February as shipments of petroleum and coal products jumped to their highest level in more than 3-1/2 years, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.
Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast, on average, a 0.3 percent increase in sales at the factory gate in the month.
Sales, which reached $49.7 billion have still not regained their pre-crisis level as the sector struggles with a sluggish U.S. market and the effects of a strong Canadian dollar.
Manufacturers were among the hardest hit by the 2008-09 recession when demand from their top market dried up, exacerbating a trend that had seen Canada's manufacturing base steadily shrink in favor of services.
New orders for manufactured goods rose for the second straight month in March, up 2 percent, while the backlog of unfilled orders also rose 2 percent to a level last seen in March 2009.
Inventory levels fell 1.2 percent, bringing the inventory-to-sales ratio to 1.30 in March from 1.34 in February.