Manitoba's annual inflation rate held steady at 1.6 per cent last month as higher costs for consumer items such as water and gasoline were offset by lower prices for things like fresh or frozen beef and children's clothing.
In its latest monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) report released on Friday, Statistics Canada said Manitoba was one of two provinces to see no change in their annual inflation rate from March to April. Five others saw their inflation rate decline, whole three experienced an increase in inflationary pressures.
In Manitoba, consumer items which saw some of the biggest increases in price between April of last year and April of this year were water (up 23.9 per cent), gasoline (up 12.5 per cent) and telephone services (up 10.2 per cent).
On the flip side, items which saw some of the the biggest drops in price were fresh or frozen beef (down 13 per cent), children's clothing (down 8.8 per cent) and cereal products (excluding baby food), which cost 8.1 per cent less than in April of last year.
On a month-to-month basis, some items which cost less in April than in March included gasoline (up 7.2 per cent), telephone services (up 6.3 per cent), and traveller accommodation (up 3.0 per cent). Some goods which cost less were children's clothing (down 6.6 per cent), footwear (down 5.0 per cent), and personal care supplies and equipment (down 3.6 per cent).
Canada's annual inflation rate also held steady last month at 1.6 per cent as higher energy costs offset a seventh consecutive decline in grocery prices, Statistics Canada said.
The agency’s consumer price index for April identified higher prices for gasoline and natural gas as the biggest upward drivers in year-over-year inflation.
On the other hand, fresh produce and clothing applied the most downward pressure on the inflation rate.
The annual inflation rate matched Statistics Canada’s reading for March but was below a consensus estimate of 1.7 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Prices at the pump were 15.9 per cent higher last month and the cost of natural gas rose 15.2 per cent more, Statistics Canada said.
Overall food prices were down 1.1 per cent as prices for fresh fruits fell 6.2 per cent, fresh vegetables slipped 5.9 per cent and meat dropped 2.1 per cent.
In addition, the cost of kids’ clothing was 6.2 per cent lower and women’s clothes cost 2.8 per cent less in April, compared with a year earlier.
Two of the agency’s three measures of core or underlying inflation slowed last month, while the third was unchanged. The indicators are designed to strip away more volatile components of the report, and are closely scrutinized by the Bank of Canada.
CPI-common stayed at 1.3 per cent last month, CPI-median decelerated to 1.6 from 1.7 and CPI-trim slowed to 1.3 from 1.4.
Statistics Canada also released its latest retail trade numbers, which showed total sales in March delivered a larger than expected rebound by rising 0.7 per cent. The data followed a month-over-month February contraction of 0.4 per cent.
Total retail trade in March was nearly $48.3 billion, thanks to stronger sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, which was mostly due to an increase in new car purchases, the report said.
Economists had predicted a 0.4 per cent increase in retail trade for March, according to Thomson Reuters.
Manitoba's retail sales also edged higher in March, rising by 0.3 per cent to $1.64 billion from $1.63 billion in February. March's total was also a 2.2 per cent improvement from a year earlier, when $1.6 billion worth of goods were sold in the province.
— Staff / The Canadian Press