By Robb M. Stewart

OTTAWA--Producer prices in Canada rose again last month, driven by a recovery in primary non-ferrous metals prices, while Canadian companies saw the biggest jump in raw materials costs in about two years.

Statistics Canada's industrial product price index increased 0.8% in March from the month before. On a 12-month basis, the producer-price index declined 0.5%.

Excluding energy and petroleum products, producer prices were also up 0.8% on-month, the data agency said Monday.

The advance in prices was led by the largest monthly increase by non-ferrous metals since December 2022, following declines for three straight months. Statistics Canada said prices were up for unwrought silver and silver alloys and for unwrought gold and gold alloys, coinciding with a rally in precious metals prices amid expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will shift to cutting interest rates this year.

Prices also rose for unwrought nickel and nickel alloys and unwrought copper and copper alloys. The agency notes nickel prices have been supported by permitting delays that have constrained supply growth in Indonesia, the world's biggest producer of the metal, while copper has risen after key Chinese smelters agreed to cut production in March.

The industrial product price index measures the prices that manufacturers in Canada receive once their goods leave the plant. It doesn't reflect the final prices consumers pay for goods on store shelves.

Prices for raw materials, which track prices paid by manufacturers, jumped 4.7% from February, the biggest monthly increase since March 2022. The increase was driven by crude energy products, which have risen for three months in a row. Conventional crude oil and synthetic crude oil prices rose for the month.

Metal ores, concentrates and scrap prices also increased, rising the most on a month-over-month basis since December 2022, with gains in gold, silver and platinum group metal ores and concentrates.

Compared with a year earlier, prices for raw materials rose 0.8%.

After stalling in the second half of last year, economic activity has picked up. The Bank of Canada has forecast growth will accelerate this year, largely due to soaring population growth and a recovery in household spending, while business investment is expected to recover gradually even as exports continue to grow solidly through the year.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-22-24 0913ET