January 22, 2020 / 1:40 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Canada's annual inflation rate holds steady at 2.2%

(Adds details from report)

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Canada’s annual inflation rate held steady at 2.2% in December, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday, supported by higher energy prices and balanced out by slower cost gains in food and cars.

The number is in line with a Reuters analysts’ poll. Energy prices were 5.5% higher in December compared with the same month last year, and were up 1.5% over the previous month.

In 2019, consumer inflation averaged 1.9%, down from 2.3% in 2018, Statscan said.

Higher mortgage interest costs drove 2019 inflation, gaining 7.6%, while gasoline prices helped offset that by declining 6.1%. Fresh vegetable prices jumped 12.7% last year, Statscan said.

Wednesday’s data comes the same day the Bank of Canada is due to announce its next overnight rate decision, which it has held steady since October 2018 even as several of its international counterparts have eased.

The central bank aims to keep inflation at 2%. Money markets expect the central bank to hold rates unchanged again on Wednesday.

CPI common, which the central bank says is the best gauge of the economy’s underperformance, was at 2.0%, while CPI median, which shows the median inflation rate across CPI components, was at 2.2%. CPI trim, which excludes upside and downside outliers, was at 2.1%.

Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa, Editing by Dale Smith and Alex Richardson

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