Food, gas prices push inflation rate higher
Canada's inflation rate edged up a notch last month, as Canadians paid more for most things last month, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
Consumer prices rose 3.2 per cent in September, while the country's annual core inflation shot up three-tenths of a point to 2.2 per cent.
Statistics Canada says all eight major components it tracks -- from housing to clothing to recreation costs -- were higher last month on an annual basis.
As has been the case so often before, the major drivers of the rising inflation rate last month were gasoline and food.
The cost of gas was up 22.7 per cent over last year, while prices for fuel oil rose 27.4 per cent and prices for natural gas fell 4.7 per cent.
Prices for food were 4.3 per cent from a year ago, overall. Consumers paid more for meat, with prices up 6.1 per cent; bakery products, which rose 7.2 per cent; and fresh vegetables, which soared 13.0 per cent.
Statistics Canada notes that the country's underlying core inflation increased to its highest level in almost three years in September.
The core inflation rate excludes volatile items, such as gasoline, and is considered a more accurate reflection of inflation trends.
The annual core rate rose three-tenths of a point to 2.2 per cent -- the largest year-over-year gain since December 2008. It's the first time it's been above the Bank of Canada's two per cent target since February 2010.
Commenting on the numbers, David Madani of the research firm Capital Economic predicted in a note to clients that the consumer price index will continue to rise "somewhat above" the Bank of Canada's expectations, and that inflation on food prices will reach at least six per cent by next year.
Still, while the jump in core inflation will likely raise some eyebrows at the central bank, few expect bank governor Mark Carney to raise interest rates next week.
"We still believe the Bank will refrain from removing any further monetary stimulus for the foreseeable future," wrote Madani.
Some even expect Carney to cut rates. But in a note to his clients, Bank of Montreal's Doug Porter says the "stickiness" of inflation makes this unlikely.
"While this result doesn't completely rule out rate cuts, it relegates them to only the most extreme circumstance," he said in the note.
"Moreover, if core stays close to this level -- let alone rises further -- the Bank of Canada may return to the tightening wheel sooner than most now expect, especially if financial markets stabilize."
The central bank has held its policy rate at one per cent for over a year and Carney has made it clear he is remaining vigilant for signs of weakness of the economy, as well as keeping an eye on the European debt crisis and the potential for another global recession.