Canada’s annual inflation rate accelerated to two per cent last month. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Canada’s annual inflation rate saw an unexpected acceleration to two per cent last month as higher costs for airfares and fresh vegetables offset cheaper prices at the pump, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Year-over-year prices picked up their pace in December after inflation was just 1.7 per cent in November, the agency said in its latest consumer price index. A consensus of economists had expected inflation to register 1.7 per cent for December, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

READ MORE: B.C. rent increases capped to inflation, 2.5% for 2019

But even as overall inflation advanced at a faster clip last month, the average of three core inflation readings remained flat at 1.9 per cent, close to the Bank of Canada’s ideal two per cent target.

Experts believe Friday’s core figures mean there’s no inflation-fuelled urgency for the Bank of Canada to raise its trend-setting interest rate.

“They will see that there’s no acceleration in (core) inflation, so they can be patient in the coming months,” National Bank of Canada deputy chief economist Matthieu Arseneau said of the central bank governing council in an interview.

“For the Bank of Canada, the focus has changed a bit (to be) more on growth for the coming months, so I think that for now (the inflation) report is less important.”

Core inflation, which excludes more-volatile components like gasoline, is the Bank of Canada’s preferred measure. The central bank, which can raise its rate as a way to keep inflation from climbing too high, pays close attention to the core numbers ahead of its policy decisions.

“Despite the upside surprise to headline inflation, core measures continued their 2018 theme of slow and steady,” TD senior economist Brian DePratto wrote in a research note to clients Friday.

“These may be somewhat backwards-looking indicators, but the message remains clear: there are few signs of fundamental inflationary pressure at the moment.”

A closer look at the numbers showed that lower gas prices, down 8.6 per cent last month, kept headline inflation from being even higher. Excluding gasoline, inflation was 2.5 per cent in December.

Compared with a year earlier, Statistics Canada said Canadians paid 14.9 per cent more for fresh vegetables and 28.1 per cent more last month for air transportation — mostly due to higher travel prices during the holidays.

DePratto noted that observers should remain cautious about year-on-year airfare comparisons because Statistics Canada introduced a methodology change for the category in early 2018.

Inflation was also up last month due to a 7.5 per cent boost in mortgage interest costs, a 3.8 per cent increase in restaurant bills and 5.1 per cent rise in passenger vehicle insurance premiums.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Helevorn comes to Kelowna on first Canadian tour

The Spaniards will bring their brand of doom metal to Kelowna May 11

Okanagan College program enacts remote smartphone chargers

Project ReCharge is making some additions to local parks

One day cat cafe comes to Lake Country

The Lake Country Art Gallery will host the adoption event

The Lonely to celebrate Roy Orbison’s music

The tribute show will come to Kelowna Sept. 27

No one hurt in West Kelowna rollover

The crash took place at Sonoma Pines Drive and Carrington Road

VIDEO: Are you concerned about Facebook leaking personal information?

Local Okanagan Facebook users speak on the social platform’s privacy settings

Memorial bench for young South Okanagan woman who died was stolen

Someone stole the stone bench that was placed at a walking bridge across the creek

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

VIDEO: Large dust devil swirls through downtown Chase

Residents look on as column climbs about 90 feet into the air

Okanagan city caps downtown cannabis retail applications

Four currently approved, two more coming, moratorium in place, reviewed after 12 months

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Okanagan school bus driver fondly remembered

Mike Moore, 56, was Vernon School District employee for 25 years before succumbing to cancer

Summerland auxiliary raised $1M for hospital tower

Funds came from sales at Summerland Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop

Most Read