Inflation_Prices

The country’s annual inflation rate cooled slightly last month—but at 2.2%, it stayed hot enough to hover above the 2% midpoint of the Bank of Canada’s ideal range.

Statistics Canada’s inflation reading for April came in a little lower than the March number of 2.3%—which had brought the rate to its highest mark since 2014—and matched the 2.2% figure for February.

The upward pressure on inflation last month was led by higher costs for gasoline, air transportation and restaurants, while the biggest downward forces came from cheaper prices for digital equipment, travel tours and natural gas.

The report also says the average of the Bank of Canada’s three measures of core inflation, which omit more-volatile numbers like pump prices, crept slightly above the 2% mark last month for the first time since February 2012.

Read: BoC suggests how to lift Canada’s growth prospects

The central bank closely monitors inflation ahead of its interest-rate decisions and it can use rate hikes as a tool to help prevent inflation from climbing too high.

But the recent readings just above the central bank’s ideal inflation bull’s-eye are unlikely to have a major impact on upcoming rate decisions because governor Stephen Poloz has predicted inflation will remain above 2% for all of 2018.

In a separate report, Statistics Canada released its latest figures for retail trade, which showed an increase for a third straight month as sales rose 0.6% in March.

Since retail volumes were up “a healthy” 0.8%, CIBC managing director and chief economist Avery Shenfeld is calling for “a decent contribution to GDP in March alongside the solid news we already saw from manufacturing,” according to a Friday research note. 

“For GDP, March is shaping up to  be a reasonable month, ending what would still be a mediocre Q1 with enough momentum to leave Q2 looking bright enough for a Bank of Canada rate hike in July,” he says. 

He cautions, however, that retail volumes were “no higher than they were back in mid-2017, so it’s not clear that we have put the recent slowing in consumption behind us.”

Read: Finding a smoother ride for the cycle’s end

Inflation rates by province (previous month in brackets)

Newfoundland and Labrador: 1.5% (1.6%)

Prince Edward Island: 2.2% (2.4%)

Nova Scotia: 2.8% (2.4%)

New Brunswick: 2.2% (2.5%)

Quebec: 1.7% (1.6%)

Ontario: 2.1% (2.4%)

Manitoba: 2.9% (2.4%)

Saskatchewan: 2.5% (2.9%)

Alberta: 2.3% (2.3%)

British Columbia: 2.7% (2.6%)

Originally published on Advisor.ca
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