* Analysts had expected a 0.3 percent increase
* Lower sales of petroleum, coal and primary metals to blame
* Some refineries reported slowdowns longer than usual
* Inventories reach record high
OTTAWA, June 14 Canadian factory sales
unexpectedly fell by 2.4 percent in April from March, dragged
down in part by lower sales of petroleum products due to
refinery slowdowns, Statistics Canada data indicated on Friday.
Analysts had expected a 0.3 percent increase. The drop is
the fourth in five months and the biggest retreat since the 2.5
percent fall recorded in August 2009.
Sales were down in 13 of 21 industries, representing about
86 percent of Canadian manufacturing. Constant dollar sales fell
by 1.6 percent on lower sales volumes.
Petroleum and coal product sales plummeted 8.8 percent in
April and are down 14.0 percent since November 2012. Petroleum
refineries account for 93 percent of sales in the petroleum and
coal product category.
"In April, some refineries reported that either maintenance
or the switch to summer fuels required production to be slowed
or halted for a longer than normal period of time," Statscan
said in its daily commentary.
Inventories rose by 0.6 percent - the fourth consecutive
monthly increase - to a record high. The inventory-to-sales
ratio rose to 1.43 in April from 1.39 in March, matching the
1.43 recorded in October 2009.
Graphic - Canadian manufacturing sales: