Ottawa inflation rate inches up to 1.4% in December

The rate of inflation in Canada’s capital accelerated last month, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The annual inflation rate climbed from 1.2 per cent in November to 1.4 per cent in December, the federal agency said.

On a month-over-month basis, however, the consumer price index fell 0.2 per cent.

Statistics Canada reported that the average price for regular unleaded gasoline in Ottawa was $1.023 per litre.

While that’s up from 99 cents in November, it’s considerably lower than the average price of 1.139 cents per litre a year earlier.

Nationally, Canada's annual pace of inflation ticked higher in December, but the increase was smaller than expected as lower food prices helped offset gasoline price increases at the pump.

Statistics Canada said the consumer price index in December was up 1.5 per cent from where it was a year ago, a higher rate of inflation compared with November's increase of 1.2 per cent.

Prices were up for seven of the eight major categories compared with a year earlier, with food being the one exception.

Economists had expected a bigger increase of 1.7 per cent year-over-year in December.

"An ongoing collapse in food prices continues to weigh heavily on overall inflation, with prices dipping again last month," Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter wrote in a note to clients.

"On the flip side, gasoline prices are rising quickly."

The transportation index was up 3.0 per cent in December compared with a year ago as gasoline prices climbed 5.5 per cent compared with a year ago. The shelter index rose 2.1 per cent.

In contrast, Statistics Canada says the price of food fell on a year-over-year basis for the third consecutive month. Prices for food in December fell 1.3 per cent compared with a year ago.

The pace of inflation increased in six provinces in December compared with November, while inflation in two provinces was unchanged and it fell in two other provinces.

Statistics Canada also released the three new measures of core inflation that the Bank of Canada has started to use to examine the underlying pace of inflation.

CPI-common for December was 1.4 per cent, while CPI-median stood at 2.0 per cent and CPI-trim 1.6 per cent.

For the full year, the average annual increase in the consumer price index was 1.4 per cent in 2016. That compared with 1.1 per cent in 2015 and 2.0 per cent in 2014.

Excluding gasoline, the annual average rise in the consumer price index was 1.8 per cent in 2016, following a 2.0 per cent increase in 2015.

In addition to the inflation report, Statistics Canada reported Friday that retail sales climbed 0.2 per cent in November to $45.2 billion.

Economists had expected a bigger increase of 0.5 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Sales were up in five of 11 subsectors with the overall increase due in large part to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers.

Retail sales in volume terms increased 0.7 per cent.

- With reporting by the Canadian Press