OTTAWA, March 4 (Reuters) - The pace of purchasing activity in Canada slowed sharply in February as employment cooled and inventories shrank, data from the Ivey Purchasing Managers Index showed on Friday.
The seasonally adjusted index fell to 53.4 from 66.0 in January, short of analysts' expectations for 59.0. The unadjusted index was little changed at 56.8 from 56.7.
A reading above 50 indicates an increase in the pace of activity.
On an unadjusted basis, the gauge of employment fell to 50.3 from 55.1, while inventories tumbled to 49.9 from 61.4.
The prices index also pulled back substantially to 57.8 from 71.6. The Canadian dollar had weakened against the greenback through much of January, helping to push companies' input costs up, but the loonie regained some strength in February.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Phil Berlowitz