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Canada : RBC PMI points to only marginal improvement in manufacturing business conditions as output stagnates in December.

The RBC Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (RBC PMI) indicated only a marginal rise in new order volumes and broadly no change in output in December. A monthly survey, conducted in association with Markit, a leading global financial information services company, and the Purchasing Management Association of Canada (PMAC), the RBC PMI offers a comprehensive and early indicator of trends in the Canadian manufacturing sector.

The headline RBC PMI - a composite indicator designed to provide a single-figure snapshot of the health of the manufacturing sector - remained at 50.4 for the second month running in December, signalling only a marginal improvement in manufacturing operating conditions. The RBC PMI, meanwhile, averaged 50.7 over the fourth quarter as a whole, down from 52.8 in the third quarter and was the lowest quarterly reading since data collection began in October 2010.

The RBC PMI found that new orders increased in December, partly reflecting greater demand and new product launches, but output levels were broadly unchanged from November. Meanwhile, employment continued to increase, but the rate of job creation was at an 11-month low and input prices rose at the slowest pace since July.

"A weak global economy and a strong loonie have weighed somewhat on the broader sector and contributed to a flat PMI reading compared to November," said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. "That said, as the cloak of uncertainty is removed from the global economy in the coming months related to fiscal policy in the U.S. and elsewhere, we expect that demand for Canadian exports will rise, as will investment and hiring across the economy."

In addition to the headline RBC PMI, the survey also tracks changes in output, new orders, employment, inventories, prices and supplier delivery times.

Key findings from the December survey include:

RBC PMI remains at lowest reading since data collection began in October 2010; output broadly unchanged from November, while new orders increase only marginally; and slowest rate of employment growth since January.

Canadian manufacturers received a larger volume of new orders in December, after broadly no change in November. Firms commented on greater client demand and the launch of new products. That said, the rate of growth was only marginal, with new export work falling for the second month running.

Despite the rise in new orders, output was broadly unchanged from one month earlier. Nonetheless, the flat production trend was an improvement from a modest reduction in the previous survey period. Concurrently, backlogs of work were depleted at a marked pace and stocks of finished goods rose, albeit the rate of inventory accumulation was only marginal.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Jan 3, 2013
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