Manufacturing sales increased 2.2% to $42.9 billion in February, the first increase since July 2008, according to data released Thursday morning by Statistics Canada.

Motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts industries in Ontario were behind most of the gains in February, following widespread slowdowns and shutdowns in January. Excluding motor vehicles and parts and accessories, manufacturing sales edged down 0.2%, the seventh monthly decline in a row.

Constant dollar manufacturing sales, which are measured in 2002 prices, rose 2.6% to $39.4 billion in February. This was the first increase in constant dollar sales since September 2008.

At the industry level, sales in 9 of 21 manufacturing industries increased in February, accounting for about 45% of total sales.

Motor vehicle manufacturers resume some operations

Motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts plants increased sales in February after numerous slowdowns and shutdowns in January. Motor vehicle manufacturers reported a 34.5% sales gain, while parts sales were up 38.5%. Despite February's increase, motor vehicle and parts sales remained approximately 40% below levels from a year earlier.

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