WRAPUP 1-Gasoline prices cool Canada inflation; cutting pressure for rate move

Fri Dec 19, 2014 10:31am EST
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* November annual inflation rate 2 pct, core 2.1 pct

* October retail sales unchanged month over month

* Canadian dollar weakens against greenback

By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Tumbling gasoline prices cooled inflation in Canada last month, providing the country's central bank with plenty of room to keep interest rates at their current low levels for some time yet.

The annualized inflation rate pulled back to 2.0 percent from October's strong 2.4 percent, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday. That was short of economists' forecasts for 2.2 percent.

A 5.9 percent year-on-year drop in gasoline prices was the main driver of the pullback. On a monthly basis, gasoline prices were at their lowest level since February 2011, falling alongside crude oil prices.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile items and is closely watched by the Bank of Canada, fell back to 2.1 percent from 2.3 percent, short of expectations for a rise to 2.4 percent.

November's slowdown brought the inflation rate smack in line with the Bank of Canada's target of 2 percent. While inflation has run hotter than the bank had anticipated this year, the bank has said repeatedly it expects that to be temporary.   Continued...