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Inflation slides back into comfort zone

Canada’s annual inflation rate fell three-tenths of a point to 2.9 per cent last month as the rate of price increases of most consumer goods measured by Statistics Canada moderated.

That’s the first time the annual inflation rate has been within the Bank of Canada’s one-to-three per cent comfort zone since July. As well, the bank’s core inflation rate, which excludes volatile items such as energy and some foods, edged down one notch to 2.1 per cent.

The dip in annual inflation had been anticipated by analysts given that the pace of rising energy costs, particularly gasoline, was known to be moderating.

Canadians paid 18.2 per cent more to fill up at the gas station in October from last year, significantly less than the 22.7 per cent increase in gas prices recorded in September.

Price increases were recorded in all eight major components measured by the agency, but in most cases not as big as in September.

The cost of transportation rose 6.7 per cent, down from 7.9 per cent the previous month. The pace of inflation also moderated for clothing and footwear, recreation, education and reading, alcohol and tobacco, and household operations.

Food, a major component of inflation, cost 4.3 per cent more than it did last year, the same increase recorded in September.

The agency said excluding the energy and food components, the average annual increase in consumer prices would be 1.5 per cent.

An anomaly in this month’s report is that consumer goods, when measured on a month-to-month basis, actually increased by a modest 0.2 per cent. That means while prices rose slightly in October from September, the jump was not as large as it was in the corresponding period last year.

Regionally, inflation moderated last month in every province of the country except Alberta, where it jumped six tenths of a point to 3.4 per cent.