UPDATE 2-Canada inflation cools in May on cheaper gasoline

Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:40am EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA, June 17 (Reuters) - Canada's annual inflation rate cooled in May on cheaper gasoline and a slowdown in price increases for food, but the Statistics Canada data was not expected to move monetary policymakers from the sidelines.

The annual rate declined to 1.5 percent from April's 1.7 percent, Statistics Canada said on Friday. That was a tad short of economists' expectations for 1.6 percent.

Inflation remained comfortably below the Bank of Canada's 2 percent target and gave policymakers room to remain accommodative.

The annual core inflation rate, which strips out some volatile items, was closer to the midpoint of the central bank's 1 percent to 3 percent range, dipping to 2.1 percent from 2.2 percent.

The Canadian dollar slightly trimmed its gains against the greenback immediately following the data, but investors were more focused on Britain's upcoming referendum on whether to stay in the European Union.

Since the Bank of Canada has repeatedly said temporary factors are influencing inflation, it is likely to focus more on the choppy economic growth expected over the second and third quarters, economists said.

The central bank said earlier this week that the economy was likely to be flat or contract slightly in the second quarter because of recent wildfires in Alberta that disrupted oil production. The third quarter is then expected to show an outsized rebound.   Continued...