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Inflation steady at 2.2%

The country's annual inflation rate rose 2.2 per cent in May for the second straight month as the higher cost of energy applied upward pressure on prices, Statistics Canada said in a new report Friday.

The latest inflation reading followed the 2.2 per cent number for April and 2.3 per cent for March, the agency found in its consumer price index.

The main contributors to inflation last month were led by gasoline prices. Compared to a year earlier, they climbed 22.9 per cent in May and helped drive overall energy prices for the month 11.6 per cent higher.

In B.C., inflation held steady at 2.7 per cent, but was slightly higher in Vancouver, where it dropped to three per cent, from 3.2 per cent the previous month.

Inflation also received a lift because Canadians paid more last month for restaurants, airline tickets and mortgage interest costs.

Consumers, however, paid less in May for telephone services, natural gas and digital devices and computers.

The report also found the average of the Bank of Canada's three measures of core inflation, which leave out more-volatile numbers like pump prices, slowed to 1.9 per cent last month.

The core reading shows these underlying numbers, which are closely monitored by the central bank, cooled somewhat compared to April, when the average hit 2.03 per cent — its strongest pace in six years.

In a separate report Friday, Statistics Canada said retail trade delivered disappointment in April with a contraction of 1.2 per cent that pulled total sales down to $49.5 billion. It marked its first month-to-month decline since December when sales also fell 1.2 per cent.

The April decrease was mostly due to a 4.3 per cent decline in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers — with new car dealerships reporting a 5.1 per cent drop and used car lots seeing a contraction of 4.1 per cent.

The overall decline was concentrated in Canada's largest provinces, the agency said. In Ontario, sales fell 2.3 per cent, while Quebec saw a drop of 2.7 per cent.



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