Weak Canadian inflation revives talk of possible rate cut

Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:46am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's annual inflation rate in August dipped to a 10-month low and retail sales unexpectedly fell in July, disappointing markets and reviving talk that the Bank of Canada was more inclined to ease monetary policy than tighten.

The data, which reflect the impact of low prices for oil - a key Canadian export - underscore the increasing economic divergence with the United States. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates by the end of the year.

Statscan said on Friday that the annual inflation rate in August dropped to 1.1 percent, the seventh consecutive month it has stayed below the Bank of Canada's 2.0 percent target.

Analysts in a Reuters poll forecast the rate would rise to 1.4 percent from 1.3 percent in July.

The closely-watched core rate, which strips out the price of some volatile items, fell to 1.8 percent from 2.1 percent, its lowest level for two years.

The Bank of Canada, which last year cut rates twice to counter the effect of low crude prices, said earlier this month that risks to the profile for inflation had tilted somewhat to the downside in recent months.

Derek Holt, head of capital markets economics at Scotiabank, said the central bank's concerns appeared to be materializing.

"The market will interpret this as keeping a greater risk of a cut than a hike alive over the course of the next year," he said by phone, noting the drop in the core rate.   Continued...

Prices are displayed for oranges at a store in Atawapiskat, Ontario, December 17, 2011. REUTERS/Frank Gunn/Pool