* PMI rises to 51.7 in Feb from 50.5 in Jan
* Output up for third straight month, highest since Aug
* Job creation bounces after Jan low, new orders up
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, March 1 The pace of Canadian
manufacturing activity picked up modestly in February, notching
the strongest expansion in five months, according to data
released on Friday, though growth was still slower than the
The RBC Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index
was at 51.7 last month after adjusting for seasonal variation,
rising from a weak 50.5 in January. A reading above 50
"The Canadian manufacturing sector fended off the February
blahs with strengthening output and employment growth," Royal
Bank of Canada's chief economist, Craig Wright, said in a
statement released with the data.
Companies increased production in the month as new orders
increased, leading many to hire more workers, the data showed.
But the slow pace of growth highlighted a broader economy
that was struggling to live up to even restrained growth
"Growth remained below par, with both output and new orders
increasing only modestly over the month," said Cheryl
Paradowski, chief executive of the Purchasing Management
Association of Canada.
The PMI data showed output rose for the third straight month
after three months of declines, while new orders also increased
The rate of job creation quickened after hitting a 12-month
low in January. Input price inflation rose, albeit at a weak
rate, while output prices rose at their fastest clip in 10
The strongest upturns in business conditions were noted by
manufacturers in Alberta and British Columbia, while Ontario and
Quebec eked out marginal gains or slight losses.
RBC's Wright said increased demand appetite from the United
States, China and Japan boosted Canadian exports, but warned
that the data didn't indicate a robust recovery yet.
"While it would be premature to suggest that the global
economy is treading on a much brighter path, these modest
improvements hint that better days may lie ahead," he said.
Statistics Canada said on Thursday that an increase in
exports to the United States helped narrow Canada's current
account deficit in the fourth quarter.