Canada's inflation rate hit 2 per cent in September, down slightly from from August's 2.1 per cent, as higher food and shelter costs were offset by a decline in gasoline prices.
Economists had expected an inflation rate of 2 per cent in the month.
The important core inflation rate, which excludes volatile components such as certain fuels and foods and which the Bank of Canada uses its "operational guide" for setting interest-rate policy, was unchanged at 2.1 per cent, matching August's level as well as economists' expectations. The core rate surprised markets by topping the central bank's target midpoint of 2 per cent in August for the first time in more than two years, after having accelerated from just 1.2 per cent early in the year.
Total inflation for the month was in line with the Bank of Canada's most recent economic projections, issued in July, but core inflation is running well above the central bank's third-quarter forecast of 1.7 per cent. The bank will update its inflation and other economic projections next week, in its quarterly Monetary Policy Report.
"The main message from today's report is that the recent run in core inflation to just over 2 per cent looks to stay with us for a while yet," said Douglas Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal, in a research note.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, month-to-month total CPI was up 0.2 per cent, after rising 0.1 per cent in August. Core CPI also rose 0.2 per cent in the month, matching August's pace.
Statistics Canada said food prices were up 2.7 per cent year over year, up from 2.2 per cent in August. The main culprit was meat, up 11.5 per cent from a year earlier. Mr. Porter noted that the rise in meat prices – which, unlike in many countries, are included in Canada's core inflation measure – "has lifted the annual core inflation rate by 0.3 percentage points" all by itself.
Shelter costs were also up 2.7 per cent in the past 12 months, due primarily to a 16-per-cent rise in natural gas prices.
But the transportation segment's inflation rate declined to 0.5 per cent, down from 1.2 per cent in August. Gasoline prices were down 0.5 per cent year over year, their third straight month of declines.
On a month-to-month basis, food prices were up 0.7 per cent in September, while transportation – which includes gasoline – was down 0.5 per cent.
The central bank has maintained throughout the year that the inflation rise
has largely been fuelled by temporary factors, such as higher energy prices and
last year's fall in the Canadian dollar, and expects
"We doubt that message will change just yet," Mr. Porter said.
"Recent data and market volatility have significantly reduced the chances that the Bank of Canada will alter the language regarding the outlook for monetary policy at next week's meeting, even with the recent pickup in inflation pressures," said Royal Bank of Canada assistant chief economist Dawn Desjardins in a research note.