Fuelled by gasoline prices, annual inflation accelerates to 2.1 per cent

OTTAWA — The country’s annual inflation rate accelerated to 2.1 per cent last month to reach its highest mark in nearly a year, Statistics Canada said Thursday.

The November inflation reading followed a 1.4 per cent increase in consumer prices in October. Last month’s increase was driven by higher costs for gasoline and air transportation, compared with a year earlier.

The result means the annual pace of inflation has now surpassed the Bank of Canada’s ideal target of two per cent following a two-year low of one per cent in June.

The central bank scrutinizes inflation data ahead of its interest-rate decisions. It’s scheduled to make an announcement next month.

Inflation has remained below two per cent for almost all of 2017 and the rate hasn’t been as high as 2.1 per cent since last January.

The report shows that pump prices delivered a major lift to last month’s overall inflation number after rising 19.6 per cent compared with the year before.

Excluding gasoline, November’s inflation rate was 1.5 per cent, an increase from 1.3 per cent in October.

Two of the Bank of Canada’s three preferred measures of core inflation, designed to look through the noise of more-volatile items like gasoline, strengthened last month.

CPI-trim rose to 1.8 per cent from 1.5 per cent and CPI-median reached 1.9 per cent compared to 1.7 per cent in October, while CPI-common cooled to 1.5 per cent from 1.6 per cent.

By region, annual inflation was higher in every province last month with Manitoba, at 3.2 per cent, and Saskatchewan, at 3.7 per cent, seeing the biggest changes.

Statistics Canada also released data Thursday that showed retail sales expanded 1.5 per cent in October, thanks to a boost in new car sales.

Retail sales were up in every province, with higher numbers in Ontario, Quebec and B.C. accounting for the bulk of the increase, the agency said.

The report showed that retail e-commerce sales increased 19.4 per cent in October, compared to a year earlier. However, it accounts for just 2.6 per cent of overall retail sales.

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