TORONTO - There was a glimmer of hope for the auto sector as Ontario's economy slipped again during the second quarter of 2009, mainly because of decreased sales to the United States.

The Ministry of Finance reports Ontario's real gross domestic product fell 1.0 per cent from April to June, confirming the recession still has a grip on the province.

The one per cent drop was an improvement over the 2.1 per cent decline recorded in the first quarter.

The auto industry posted a 0.7 per cent gain in the second quarter, after falling a staggering 40 per cent over the previous six months, including a 27.5 per cent decline from January to March.

Production in the manufacturing sector overall fell for the ninth consecutive quarter, down 4.0 per cent after a 9.5 per cent drop in the first quarter.

The ministry credits higher consumer and government spending in the second quarter with offsetting some of the declines.

Consumer spending increased by 0.5 per cent, with car sales, clothing, shoes, food and natural gas all showing gains.

Ontario's trade surplus dropped as exports fell 3.1 per cent while imports remained flat.