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(BERNADETT SZABO/BERNADETT SZABO/REUTERS)
(BERNADETT SZABO/BERNADETT SZABO/REUTERS)

Inflation dips to 2.2% in February Add to ...

Statistics Canada says annual inflation edged down one-tenth of a point to 2.2 per cent in February.

The agency says energy prices, particularly the cost of gasoline, contributed to keeping inflation above the Bank of Canada's ideal 2-per-cent level.

But the central bank's other key measure - underlying core inflation that excludes volatile items like energy - fell to 0.9 per cent. That's its lowest level since the government started keeping records for the core rate in 1984.

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Economists had forecast an annual core rate of 1.1 per cent and headline inflation to remain at 2.3 per cent, which is what it was in January.

"While the rest of the world seems to be grappling with rising inflation pressures, Canada is going in the opposite direction - both headline and core inflation have eased since the start of the year," BMO Nesbitt Burns deputy chief economist Douglas Porter wrote in a note to investors.

"This is set to reverse next month, as Canada gets with the global program, but the low starting point is very favourable. Suffice it to say that this keeps the pressure well off the Bank of Canada to get back in tightening mode any time soon."

"Slightly positive for bonds and negative for the (Canadian dollar) this morning," observed Krishen Rangasamy of CIBC World Markets. "However, expect both the annual headline and core rate to move higher in March on a year on year basis."

Prices were higher in February in six of the eight major components tracked by the agency, although such items as women's clothing, footwear and travel tours cost less than a year ago.

On a month-to-month basis, consumer goods were 0.3 per cent more expensive last month than in January, mostly due to higher energy and gasoline prices.

On a regional basis, Nova Scotia remained the province with the highest inflation rate at 3.4 per cent. Many people in that province use oil and other fuel to heat their homes.

Alberta continued to enjoy the most stable prices, with an inflation rate of 1.2 per cent.

Drivers in every province except Manitoba faced double-digit price increases for gasoline on a year-over-year basis. The price at the pumps was up 15.7 per cent from a year earlier.

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