[OTTAWA, ON] – Canada's annual inflation rate rose for the second consecutive month in February, as higher prices on gasoline and food pushed the cost of consumer goods in Canada up one notch to 2.6 per cent.
As well, core inflation – the underlying pressure on consumer goods, excluding volatile items such as energy and fresh foods – rose two notches to 2.3 per cent, above the Bank of Canada's two-per-cent target line.
"On a monthly basis and before seasonal adjustment, consumer prices went up 0.4 per cent in February, after increasing the same amount in January," Statistics Canada says in its report.
Following a two-tenths pop in January, the first two months of 2012 reverses what had been a generally downward trajectory in inflation that began last May.
While unlikely to be seen as permanent, the upward trend could cause some re-thinking at the Bank of Canada, which had been expecting inflation to continue falling.
Statistics Canada says the big mover in the past two months has been gasoline, which is exerting upward pressure on most energy prices and transportation costs. Gas prices rose by 2.6 per cent over January and were 8.9 per cent more than a year ago.
Middle East turmoil and uncertainty over supply has caused the price for world oil to stay well north of the $100 US level, despite what remains a generally weak global economic backdrop.
Meanwhile, the cost of food continued to rise faster than inflation overall – it was 4.1 per cent higher than a year ago, as the cost of meat rose 7.1 per cent and bread by 7.2 per cent.
Other items that saw price increases included shelter, household operations, clothing and footwear, transportation, health and personal services, and alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
Of the eight major components tracked by the agency, only recreation, education and reading saw a pull-back in prices from a year ago.
Regionally, Newfoundland and Labrador saw its inflation rate drop slightly to 2.8 per cent from 2.9 per cent the previous month. This was reflected in St. John's, which saw its rate drop by the same amount, going to 2.7 per cent from 2.8 per cent the previous month. New Brunswick saw an even larger fall, going down to 2.6 per cent from 3.2 a month earlier. Again, the provincial trend was reflected on the municipal level with Saint John dropping to 2.4 per cent from three per cent a month ago.
The rest of the region didn't fare as well. Prince Edward Island's provincial rate crept up to 3.1 per cent from the previous month's 2.9 per cent, while the Charlottetown-Summerside area went up to 2.9 per cent from last month's 2.7. Nova Scotia was also up, rising fractionally to 2.8 per cent from 2.7 per cent the previous month. Halifax followed suit, nudging up to 2.5 per cent from 2.4 per cent.
Statistics Canada cautions that city figures may fluctuate widely because they're based on small statistical samples.