WRAPUP 1-Canada inflation tamer than expected, all eyes on central bank

Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:25am EDT
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* Inflation rises to 0.7 pct from 0.4 pct, still well below target

* Retail sales weaker than expected, volumes healthy

* Canadian dollar slumps to 19-month low after the data

* New central bank chief under little pressure to uphold tightening bias

By Louise Egan

OTTAWA, June 21 (Reuters) - A jump in natural gas prices raised Canada's annual rate of inflation to 0.7 percent in May from a 3-1/2-year low of 0.4 percent, but the figure remained well below the central bank's target, confirming there is little pressure to raise interest rates soon.

The weak numbers knocked the Canadian dollar to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar since December 2011.

Retail sales for April also missed forecasts, gaining just 0.1 percent from March, short of estimates of 0.3 percent growth, as weaker sales at gas stations offset strong car sales.

The consumer price index (CPI) climbed 0.2 percent in the month, Statistics Canada said on Friday. Core CPI, which excludes energy and other volatile items, also gained 0.2 percent, leaving the annual rate unchanged at 1.1 percent.   Continued...