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Province's inflation rate highest in Canada

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Manitoba had the highest average annual provincial inflation rate in the country in 2013 at 2.2 per cent, new Statistics Canada figures show.

Although Manitoba’s rate was more than double Canada’s average annual rate of 0.9 per cent, it was pretty much in line with what the Bank of Canada has long considered the ideal rate for Canada — 2.0 per cent.

It was also a little more than half a percentage point higher than Manitoba’s 2012 annual average of 1.6 per cent.

Among the rest of the provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador had the second-highest average annual rate at 1.7 per cent. And British Columbia deflation, with an average annual rate of minus 0.1 per cent.

Canada’s rate of 0.9 per cent followed consumer price gains of 1.5 per cent in 2012 and 2.9 per cent in 2011, Statistics Canada said.

On Friday, the agency also released the consumer price index numbers for the December 2012 to December 2013 period. Manitoba had an annual inflation rate in December of 2.1 per cent, which was down from 2.4 per cent in November.

Three other provinces — Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan — had higher annual inflation rates in December than Manitoba. PEI had the highest, at 3.0 per cent. Canada’s annual rate in December was 1.2 per cent.

Canada’s December inflation number came in below the Bank of Canada’s ideal target of two per cent, but within the desired range of one and three per cent.

It was also within analyst estimates. The November inflation rate was unusually low at 0.9 per cent and was expected to rise but continue to be relatively low, as it has been for more than a year.

The last time Canada’s inflation rate hit the central bank’s ideal target of two per cent was in April 2012, according to Statistics Canada figures.

Today’s report "carried much more weight than normal, given that the Bank of Canada has lifted inflation to exalted status in their worry list," BMO chief economist Douglas Porter wrote in a note following the release. "However, the results are a stalemate for the market since they precisely met the bank’s assumptions."

"For now, though, inflation has moved above the very low end of the Bank’s comfort zone, providing a touch of breathing space and easing one source of pressure on the loonie," Porter added.

The rise in overall inflation in Canada in December was largely attributable to higher gasoline prices, which rose 4.7 per cent from a year earlier.

Higher shelter costs and food prices also increased last month, while costs for health and personal care declined, Statistics Canada reported.

— Staff/Canadian Press

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