BUSINESS

Canadian Inflation Spikes As Natural Gas, Meat Prices Soar

11/21/2014 08:32 EST | Updated 01/21/2015 05:59 EST
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 31: Cuts of beef are displayed at Marina Meats on January 31, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Severe drought is a contributing factor in the declining cattle count, which has sent wholesale beef prices up 6.4 percent in the past 12 months. The price for a pound of beef peaked in price at $1.98 a pound on November 23, the highest price since 2004. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
OTTAWA - The country's annual inflation rate climbed higher than economists' expectations last month, accelerating to 2.4 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The October increase follows a 2.0 per cent rise in September.

The federal agency says the consumer price index climbed as prices rose in all of the categories it tracks in the 12 months leading up to October, with both food and shelter costs adding 2.8 per cent to lead the way.

Looking at specific goods, the report says the climbing year-over-year prices of natural gas at 20.1 per cent, cigarettes at 11.5 per cent and meat at 12.4 per cent were among the biggest contributors to the increase.

Some of the biggest price decreases on goods included video equipment at 8.4 per cent, digital computing equipment and devices at 5.5 per cent and furniture at 2.9 per cent.

Prices rose in every province compared to the previous year — with Alberta posting the biggest increase at 3.0 per cent, followed by Ontario at 2.8 per cent. British Columbia saw the smallest gain in prices among the provinces at 1.1 per cent.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, Canada's cost of living was up 0.1 per cent in October following an increase of 0.2 per cent the previous month.

The core measure, a figure that excludes some volatile items from the food and energy categories, rose 2.3 per cent in October compared with a year ago after a 2.1 per cent increase in September.

Economists had anticipated the readings for both total and core inflation for October to rise 2.1 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Core inflation is followed closely by the Bank of Canada, which aims to keep it as close to its optimal two per cent target as possible.

In its October monetary policy report, the Bank of Canada indicated core inflation had climbed more quickly than expected since July, though it had remained close to its mandated bulls eye.

At the time, the central bank described the underlying inflationary pressures as "muted" due, in part, to the still-competitive retail sector.

The bank predicted both the core and headline Consumer Price Index to stay near the two per cent zone for a sustained period, despite risks including stronger private demand from the U.S., continued disappointment in worldwide growth, beefed-up household spending in Canada and lower oil prices.

Canada's largest food price spikes, as of March, 2014:

The Largest Food Price Spikes