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Economy

Canadian annual inflation rate doubles

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By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada‘s annual inflation rate doubled to 2.2% in March, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday, as the central bank signaled economic slack would likely be absorbed earlier than it had previously forecast.

Previously, the Bank of Canada had said it would be 2023 before inflation returned sustainably to its 2% target. On Tuesday, the central bank said it would happen in the second half of next year. In the meantime, inflation would temporarily breach its target, the bank said.

Part of the March price bounce is due to a statistical effect caused by a sharp deceleration last year during the coronavirus pandemic, Statscan said.

The bank also held its key overnight interest rate at a record low 0.25% as expected.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the annual rate to rise to 2.3% in March, up from 1.1% in February. Energy prices gained 19.1% on a year-on-year basis, while inflation excluding gasoline and food rose 0.9% versus a year ago.

“The headline spike, as expected, is largely an energy story, but there are some signs that underlying pressures are starting to show up,” said Nathan Janzen, senior economist at the Royal Bank of Canada.

“The Bank of Canada‘s core measures also moved higher on the month, with two of them very slightly above the Bank of Canada‘s midpoint 2% inflation target,” Janzen said.

CPI common, which the central bank calls the best gauge of the economy’s underperformance, was 1.5%, slightly higher than the 1.4% forecast by analysts.

CPI median rose to 2.1% from 2.0% in February, and CPI trim was 2.2% in March, up from a revised 2.0% in the previous month.

But Derek Holt, vice president of capital markets economics at Scotiabank, said the annual rate is not being driven solely by a statistical effect.

“This isn’t just base effect-driven, it’s pretty remarkable resilience in terms of underlying inflation pressures,” he said.

The bank now expects Canada‘s economy will grow 6.5% in 2021, up from its January forecast of 4.0%, with real GDP growth of 3.7% in 2022, down from a previous forecast of 4.8%.

After the Bank of Canada announcement, the Canadian dollar strengthened 0.9% to 1.2499 to the greenback, or 80.01 U.S. cents, its biggest gain since last June.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Paul Simao and Alistair Bell)

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Canadian dollar moves to extend weekly win streak as oil rebounds

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Canadian dollar

The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Friday and was on track for its seventh straight weekly gain as oil prices rose and domestic data added to evidence of robust economic growth in the first quarter.

Canadian factory sales rose 3.5% in March from February, led by the motor vehicle, petroleum and coal, and food product industries, while wholesale trade was up 2.8%, Statistics Canada said.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, reversed some of the previous day’s sharp losses as stock markets strengthened, though gains were capped by the coronavirus situation in major oil consumer India and the restart of a fuel pipeline in the United States.

U.S. crude prices rose 1.2% to $64.61 a barrel, while the Canadian dollar was trading 0.6% higher at 1.2093 to the greenback, or 82.69 U.S. cents, moving back in reach of Wednesday’s 6-year peak at 1.2042.

For the week, the loonie was on track to gain 0.3%. It has climbed more than 5% since the start of the year, the biggest gain among G10 currencies, supported by surging commodity prices and a shift last month to a more hawkish stance by the Bank of Canada.

Still, BoC Governor Tiff Macklem said on Thursday if the currency continues to rise, it could create headwinds for exports and business investment as well as affecting monetary policy.

The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of major currencies, pressured by a recovery in risk appetite across markets after Federal Reserve officials helped calm concerns about a quick policy tightening in response to accelerating U.S. inflation.

Canadian government bond yields were lower across much of a flatter curve, with the 10-year down 2 basis points at 1.549%. On Thursday, it touched its highest intraday in eight weeks at 1.624%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Toronto Stock Exchange rises 1.21% to 19,366.69

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Toronto Stock Exchange

* The Toronto Stock Exchange‘s TSX rises 1.21 percent to 19,366.69

* Leading the index were SNC-Lavalin Group Inc <SNC.TO​>, up 16.0%, Village Farms International Inc​, up 9.8%, and Denison Mines Corp​, higher by 9.4%.

* Lagging shares were Aurora Cannabis Inc​​, down 7.2%, Centerra Gold Inc​, down 3.8%, and Canadian National Railway Co​, lower by 3.7%.

* On the TSX 194 issues rose and 35 fell as a 5.5-to-1 ratio favored advancers. There were 25 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 225.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Enbridge Inc, Manulife Financial Corp and Cenovus Energy Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group rose 3.32 points, or 2.7%, while the financials sector climbed 4.80 points, or 1.3%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 2.65%, or $1.69, to $65.51 a barrel. Brent crude  rose 2.68%, or $1.8, to $68.85 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 11.1% for the year.

This summary was machine generated May 14 at 21:03 GMT.

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Economy

U.S., Mexico, Canada to hold ‘robust’ talks on trade deal

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The United States, Mexico and Canada will next week hold their first formal talks on their continental trade deal, with particular focus on labor and environmental obligations, the U.S. government said on Friday.

Trade ministers from the three nations are set to meet virtually on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) deal, which took effect in July 2020.

“The ministers will receive updates about work already underway to advance cooperation … and will hold robust discussions about USMCA’s landmark labor and environmental obligations,” the office of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.

The United States is also reviewing tariffs which may be leading to inflation in the country, economic adviser Cecilia Rouse told reporters at the White House on Friday, a move that could affect hundreds of billions of dollars in trade.

The United States, testing provisions in the new deal aimed at strengthening Mexican unions, this week asked Mexico to investigate alleged abuses at a General Motors Co factory.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Jonathan Oatis)

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