Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitoba's inflation rate falls

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Inflationary pressures eased last month in Manitoba, as the province's annual inflation rate dropped nearly half a percentage point to 2.2 per cent.

Statistics Canada figures released Friday show Manitoba was one of nine provinces to see consumer prices decelerate between February of last year and February of this year. The lone exception was Saskatchewan, which saw no change in its annual rate.

Last month's easing came after a nearly half a percentage point spike in Manitoba's annual rate in January.

Some of the consumer items that declined in price between February of last year and February of this year in Manitoba were prescribed medicines (down 7.1 per cent), furniture (-6.2 per cent), and clothing, accessories and jewelry (-5.7 per cent).

Nationally, consumer prices rose more in February than expected but not enough to keep annual inflation from dipping four-tenths of a point to 1.1 per cent -- near the low end of the Bank of Canada's target range.

Economists had anticipated Statistics Canada's annual inflation rate would fall because a spike in gasoline prices in February 2013 didn't happen again this year but the actual decline was less than expected.

Consumer prices also increased more than anticipated between January and February, pushing up last month's consumer price index 0.8 per cent as travel tours, hotels, autos and gas were all higher.

Economists had generally estimated the month-to-month increase would be 0.6 per cent and the annual inflation rate would fall below one per cent, the low end of the Bank of Canada's acceptable range.

"The smaller year-over-year rise in the CPI in February compared with January was mainly attributable to gasoline prices, which fell 1.3 per cent in the 12 months to February, following a 4.6 per cent increase in January," Statistics Canada explained.

On a monthly basis, gasoline prices rose 2.3 per cent this February, a smaller increase than in the same month a year ago (8.4 per cent).

Earlier in the week, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said he would discount this month's reading because it did not present an accurate picture of inflationary pressures in Canada. He said he believes the trend rate of inflation is about 1.2 per cent, exactly the level for February's core rate, which excludes volatile items such as energy and some fresh foods.

-- staff / The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2014 B9

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