WRAPUP 1-Canada inflation tame but retail sales jump surprises

Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:47am EST
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* Inflation at a five-month low, below central bank target

* Bank of Canada under no pressure to hike rates

* Retail sales grow faster than expected

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Tame Canadian inflation figures on Friday lent support to the central bank's stance of keeping interest rates ultra-low, but surprisingly upbeat retail sales data signaled pockets of economic vitality.

Statistics Canada said annual inflation in October dipped below the Bank of Canada's target range, dropping to a five-month low of 0.7 percent from 1.1 percent in September. Analysts had expected a rate of 0.9 percent.

But separate data out on Friday also showed retail sales were three times stronger than expected in September, driven by booming auto demand.

The Bank of Canada, which aims to keep inflation near the middle of its 1 to 3 per cent target range, has kept its key overnight interest rate at a near-record low of 1 percent since September 2010 in an effort to spur economic growth.

Last month, citing the below-par economy and a struggling export sector, the central bank removed its credit tightening bias and made clear that rates would not be going up any time soon.   Continued...