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Annual inflation rate holds steady in Manitoba

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Manitoba’s annual inflation rate held steady at a tame 1.3 per cent last month, amid falling prices for things like gasoline, men’s and women’s clothing, and furniture, Statistics Canada said today.

The agency said the cost of women’s clothing fell 6.3 per cent from November to December. Other major contributors to the low cost of living here were a 5.3 per cent drop in gasoline prices, a five-per-cent decline in furniture prices, and a 4.8 per cent easing in the cost of men’s clothing.

Over the 12-month period to December, some of the biggest contributors to easing in inflationary pressures here were lower prices for things like fresh vegetables (down 17.8 per cent), natural gas (-13.8) and home entertainment equipment, parts and services (-7.9).

But despite the tame number, Manitoba still had one of the country’s highest annual inflation rates in December, the Statistics Canada numbers show. The only provinces with a higher cost of living were Nova Scotia and Quebec, at 1.8 and 1.5 per cent respectively. Newfoundland and Labrador had the same rate as Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island was notch below at 1.2 per cent.

Canada’s inflation, meanwhile, remained barely visible for the second consecutive month in December, as consumers enjoyed one of the best years in terms of purchasing power since the recession.

The national annual inflation rate remained 0.8 per cent, capping off a year in which price increases have been largely constrained by a weakened global economy.

On a month-to-month basis, Canadian prices fell outright by 0.6 per cent from November, as retailers also dropped sticker prices on clothes and footwear in an effort to attract Christmas shoppers.

"Today’s inflation numbers were well-below what markets and the Bank of Canada were expecting — in short, inflation simply is not an issue in Canada, at least not at the moment," TD economist Francis Fong wrote in a research note.

"That being said, the end of 2012 was certainly a cyclical low with regards to economic growth and things are expected to heat up from here."

November and December saw lower prices on a wide range of goods and services helping bring the annual inflation rate in Canada to an average of 1.5 per cent, about half the rate of the previous year and the lowest level since 2009, when the economy was still hobbled by recession.

— with files by Canadian Press

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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