Take Stock – September 18

Statistics Canada says annual inflation edged up slightly in August but stayed well below zero at negative 0.8 per cent.

Inflation falls for third consecutive month

Statistics Canada says annual inflation edged up slightly in August but stayed well below zero at negative 0.8 per cent.

The index was at a negative 0.9 per cent in July, which was the lowest rate recorded since 1953.

The agency says overall prices remained unchanged last month from the previous month.

Gasoline prices that were considerably lower than last year at this time are the primary reason annual inflation remains below zero. On average it cost $1.01 a litre to fill up last month, compared to $1.27 at the gas pumps last August. But food prices remain well above last year’s levels, although the four-per-cent increase in food costs were lower than the five per cent reading in July and 5.5 per cent increase registered in June. Regionally, the agency says eight provinces saw overall prices decline in August, with only Quebec and Saskatchewan bucking the trend.

Leading indicators up in August

Statistics Canada says its composite leading index rose 1.1 per cent in August, the biggest jump since April 2002 and a strong signal that an economic comeback is in the works. The rise follows a 0.6 per cent increase in July. The composite leading index is designed to indicate where the economy is headed in the coming six to 12 months.

The agency says jumps of one per cent or more in the index usually come early in the recovery after a downturn. The August increase was broader than the July gain, with eight of the 10 components in the index moving up, including the manufacturing sector.

The housing index rose by 3.1 per cent after sizeable gains in June and July.

It was the strongest three months of growth in the housing sector since the spring of 1991. Consumer spending for other durable goods also continued to expand and the Toronto stock market continued to trend upwards for the fifth straight month.

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