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Food keeps getting more expensive even as overall inflation slows

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Canada’s official inflation rate slowed for the third month in a row in September, even as many goods and services continued to get more expensive.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that the consumer price index declined to 6.9 per cent in September, down from seven per cent in August.

The rate seems to have peaked at a 40-year high of 8.1 per cent in June.

Economists had been expecting an even bigger drop off, to about 6.7 per cent, but food prices pulled the headline number up.

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Food purchased at stores increased at a pace of 11.4 per cent. That’s the fastest pace of increase in grocery bills since August 1981.

Some of the price increases in the grocery aisle in the past year are eye-popping:

  • Cereals are up 17.9 per cent.
  • Baked goods are up 14.8 per cent.
  • Fresh fruit is up by 12.9 per cent.
  • Fresh vegetables are up by 11.8 per cent.
  • Dairy products are up by 9.7 per cent.
  • Meat prices are up by 7.6 per cent.

The number means food inflation is almost twice as much as the overall inflation rate. Food inflation has now been higher than the overall rate for 10 months in a row.

Food prices may keep climbing

Worse still, there’s reason to fear that food prices may keep going higher for seasonal and currency reasons.

“We have a weak Canadian dollar right now and we import a lot of what we consume,” economist Derek Holt with Scotiabank said in an interview.

Drought conditions in food-producing parts of Europe and the United States will also push up prices for Canadian shoppers.

“We’re headed in the right direction, I think, as supply chains adjust — but it’s still going to require some patience,” Holt said.

Independent grocer Sue Ghebari says her wholesale costs have increased by more than her prices have this year. (CBC)

While major grocery chains have enough control over their supply chains to put pressure on suppliers to keep prices low, that isn’t the case for independent grocers like Sue Ghebari, co-owner of MRT Family Foods in Calgary.

She says her costs on the wholesale side are up by between 25 to 30 per cent, an increase she can’t pass on to customers because she’ll lose them.

“We’ve tried not to increase prices too much because increasing prices doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to sell the item,” she said. “If it’s too expensive it’s not going to get bought.”

Shoppers blame big grocery chains

In Toronto, shopper John Romanelli says the cost of food is “atrocious” right now and he places the blame squarely at the feet of the big grocery chains.

“They’ve never made more money than they are today,” he told CBC News in an interview Tuesday. “We just went through two years of COVID and they’re making millions off us. … All they’re doing is pocketing everyone’s hardship.”

Increases in the price of food are out of control, and on the streets of Toronto on Tuesday, Canadians told CBC News about what they are doing to deal with them.

Gasoline prices, which were a major contributor to inflation earlier in the year, have now fallen for three months in a row. They’re still, on average, 13 per cent higher than they were a year ago, but they fell by more than seven per cent during the month of September.

The lone exception to the pump price trend was B.C., where unexpected oil refinery shutdowns led to the price of gasoline spiking all over the province. Pump prices were up by 27 per cent during the month.

Gas prices have risen this month across the country, something that may lead to an unpleasant surprise in next month’s inflation data. “Given that those prices have since reversed, the next month could see headline inflation temporarily heading in the wrong direction,” said CIBC economist Karyne Charbonneau.

Food and energy prices are always volatile, which is why the data agency strips those out of some of its numbers to calculate to get a better sense of the underlying price pressures in the overall economy.

The data agency tabulates three measures — CPI-median, CPI-trim and CPI-common — that taken together are known as “core inflation.”

The core rate was unchanged at 5.3 per cent during the month, a disturbing sign that inflation is starting to become entrenched even as the Bank of Canada has been hiking rates aggressively to rein it in.

Charbonneau says the biggest thing the central bank will take away from the latest inflation numbers is the need for higher rates to further cool demand.

“The Bank of Canada has clearly not slayed the inflation dragon yet and is therefore set for another large rate hike next week.”

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Canada's jobs market ekes out another gain in November as wages rise – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Workers inspect lumber at West Fraser Pacific Inland Resources sawmill in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Jesse Winter

Statistics Canada reported the latest jobs report for November on Friday. REUTERS/Jesse Winter

Canada’s labour market added 10,000 jobs in November, building slightly on its massive 108,000 gain from the month prior, Statistics Canada reported on Friday.

The gain was driven by an increase in full-time positions. Employment rose in sectors such as finance, real estate and manufacturing but fell in construction and wholesale trade.

The unemployment rate ticked lower to 5.1 per cent as labour force participation edged down.

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Average hourly wage growth across all industries remained unchanged in November at 5.6 per cent, while wages for permanent employees tapered gains to 5.4 per cent on an annualized basis.

It’s the sixth month in a row that wages have risen by more than five per cent and a key measure the Bank of Canada is watching as it tries to head off a wage-price spiral.

“A host of wage metrics suggest that Canadian wage growth is either stabilizing or decelerating,” Royce Mendes, managing director at head of macro strategy at Desjardins, said in a note.

“As a result of the only modest gain in headline employment and the absence of any signs of accelerating wage growth, we continue to expect the Bank of Canada to hike rates just 25bps next week.”

However, other economists are still betting on a half-point hike from the central bank.

“Over the past 6 months, the Canadian labour market has largely stood still, with average gains of just over 4K a month. However, given still strong wage growth, the composition of job gains in November (mainly private sector and full-time), and the low unemployment rate, this report supports our view that the Bank of Canada will increase rates by 50 bps next week, before pausing in 2023,” Karyne Charbonneau, the executive director of economics at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

The small gain in employment comes as economic growth in the third quarter was stronger than expected.

GDP grew 2.9 per cent on an annualized basis in the three-month period. While it marked a slowdown compared to the previous quarter, the headline number was significantly stronger than the Bank of Canada’s forecast in its latest Monetary Policy Report, where it predicted growth to stall through the end of this year and into 2023.

Michelle Zadikian is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @m_zadikian.

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Kelowna unemployment rate rises for third consecutive month – Kelowna News – Castanet.net

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Central Okanagan’s unemployment rate jumped in November, marking the third consecutive month it has increased.

Statistics Canada on Friday reported Kelowna’s metropolitan area had a jobless rate of 4.9% last month, which was up from 4.3% in October and 4.1% in September. The region’s unemployment rate hit a nearly three-year low of 3.9% in August but is now on the way back up.

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Kelowna’s labour force, which is all members of the population who are able to work, dropped by 1,200 people in November, but the number of those actually working fell by 1,900.

It was a different story in the Thompson Okanagan region as a whole, however, as the unemployment rate dipped to 4.5% from 4.9% last month.

The national jobless mark fell to 5.1% in November from 5.2% in October, and the country gained 10,000 jobs over the month’s 30 days. Canada added 108,000 jobs in October.

“The main overriding feature of today’s report was that you were continuing to gain jobs in Canada,” TD director of economics James Orlando said Friday. “If you add up just the number of jobs gained (in) November and October, it’s pretty substantial.”

Employment rose in several industries in November, including finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing, manufacturing and in information, culture and recreation, while it fell in construction as well as wholesale and retail trade.

Statistics Canada also noted in its report that the employment rate among core-aged women aged 25 to 54 hit 81.6% in November, a record high in comparable data going back to 1976.

Canada’s labour market has remained remarkably strong despite signs of an economic slowdown. The unemployment rate fell to a record-low of 4.9% in the summer and has edged up only slightly since then.

“The economy is clearly still doing very well,” Orlando said. “When you look at the labour market, you have not seen a slowdown.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

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Oil Analysts Are More Divided Than Ever – OilPrice.com

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Oil Analysts Are More Divided Than Ever | OilPrice.com

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Oil

1. Oil Analysts Diverge Ahead of OPEC Meeting

– OPEC+ will meet this Sunday to discuss its production targets for January 2023, amidst a widening discrepancy between oil market watchers as to what we should be expecting next year.

– As things stand currently, it is only the US Department of Energy’s EIA that sees OPEC+ pumping more oil in H1 2023, others indicate the oil group should either keep targets as they are or cut further.

– With outright prices bouncing back from the lowest levels seen this year and even WTI swinging back above $80 per barrel, the current consensus is that OPEC+ will roll over its targets.

– Confirming that forecasts have become inherently political, the IEA’s global oil demand growth for 2023 stands at a mere 1.7 million b/d whilst OPEC expects 2.55 million b/d.

2. Ukraine War to Shrink Russian Upstream Investment

– After Russian oil companies invested $45 billion into upstream projects across the country last year, this year is poised to see the lowest investment activity in years as companies postpone FIDs.

– Greenfield investments have tumbled 40% year-on-year to $8 billion, and even that is mostly coming from previous commitments such as gas production going into Power of Siberia-1 or Vostok Oil.

– Russia’s two largest energy companies, the oil giant Rosneft and the gas giant Gazprom, have seen marginal declines in capital spending this year, coming in at $12.9 billion…

1. Oil Analysts Diverge Ahead of OPEC Meeting

Oil

– OPEC+ will meet this Sunday to discuss its production targets for January 2023, amidst a widening discrepancy between oil market watchers as to what we should be expecting next year.

– As things stand currently, it is only the US Department of Energy’s EIA that sees OPEC+ pumping more oil in H1 2023, others indicate the oil group should either keep targets as they are or cut further.

– With outright prices bouncing back from the lowest levels seen this year and even WTI swinging back above $80 per barrel, the current consensus is that OPEC+ will roll over its targets.

– Confirming that forecasts have become inherently political, the IEA’s global oil demand growth for 2023 stands at a mere 1.7 million b/d whilst OPEC expects 2.55 million b/d.

2. Ukraine War to Shrink Russian Upstream Investment

Ukraine

– After Russian oil companies invested $45 billion into upstream projects across the country last year, this year is poised to see the lowest investment activity in years as companies postpone FIDs.

– Greenfield investments have tumbled 40% year-on-year to $8 billion, and even that is mostly coming from previous commitments such as gas production going into Power of Siberia-1 or Vostok Oil.

– Russia’s two largest energy companies, the oil giant Rosneft and the gas giant Gazprom, have seen marginal declines in capital spending this year, coming in at $12.9 billion and $10.4 billion, respectively.

– At the same time, future LNG projects such as Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2 might be delayed for five to six years longer than previously assumed due to a lack of liquefaction technologies.

3. Europe Confronts First Cold Spell

Europe

– Following an unseasonably warm autumn, Europe is now bracing for colder-than-average temperatures in December as a double-blocking pattern in the Arctic will bring weeks of chill.

– Scandinavia, Northern, and Western Europe will be the most impacted regions, marking the first real test of European gas inventories this winter, with stocks still around 94% full.

– Power prices in Scandinavian countries were the first to react, with the Nordic daily rate surging 8% in just one day to almost €375 per MWh, the highest since September.

– European spot gas prices have seen some strengthening earlier this week, although they remain on par with month-ago readings, trending around €140 per MWh.

4. Lack of Dual-Use Units Limits Gas Switching

Gas

– As the coming Arctic wave is pushing natural gas prices in Europe up again, the continent’s industry at large has hit the limits of gas-to-oil switching that could allow the generation of power from diesel or fuel oil.

According to the IEA, gas-to-oil switching in Europe might rise to 450,000 b/d in Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, double of what it used to be a year ago when gas prices were four times cheaper.

– The switching capacity of the European industry is assessed at a mere 2-3% of installed capacity or around 2 GW, with most of it located in Italy, Germany, and Spain.

– Fuel oil used to be a huge source of power generation in the early 2000s with some 1 million b/d of installed capacity, but now those volumes have shrunk sixfold to 150,000 b/d.

5. China’s Decarbonization Is Around the Corner

China

According to Rystad Energy, China is developing more renewable energy capacity than any other country in the world to fulfill its pledge of becoming carbon-neutral by 2060.

– China’s power generation is still dominated by coal, accounting for some 58% of all electricity and totaling 1,115 GW in capacity, but non-emitting energies have been making huge inroads.

– Current developments suggest China will ramp up its solar PV and wind capacity to almost 2,000 GW by 2030, tripling it over the course of the upcoming seven years as the LCOE of a solar plant dropped below $50 per MWh.

– China’s share in the manufacturing of solar panels stands around 85%, implying the sourcing of wafers and polysilicon will be domestic, buoying relevant industries as well.

6. Despite Headwinds, Saudi Arabia Is the Real Winner of 2022

Saudi Arabia

– Saudi Arabia is expected to post a budget surplus of $25 billion this year, the first in more than a decade, fuelled by a robust 8% increase in the Middle Eastern kingdom’s real GDP.

– Boosted by higher production from Saudi Aramco and elevated oil prices for most of this year, the ramp-up in fiscal spending now will push the budget breakeven lower next year, to $76 per barrel.

– Despite the bountiful windfall, Riyadh has many unforeseen issues it must settle, such as the country’s sudden bank liquidity issue as the interbank offered rate (Saibor) soared to 6% recently.

– This has prompted the Saudi central bank to intervene, seeking to cool down the aggressive loan expansion amidst the country’s rapid economic growth.

7. Copper Strength Is Back

Copper

– Amidst widespread Chinese protests and China’s purchasing managers index (PMI) coming in at the lowest reading since March 2022, copper prices continue their spectacular surge.

– The three-month LME copper contract moved to 8,220 per metric ton this week, setting it on track to soar 10% in November, the first monthly gain in eight months and the biggest since April 2021.

– Most of the positive momentum for copper has been coming from shifting expectations in Chinese growth, with the market seeing the protests as paving the way for further Covid easing.

– China is the largest consumer of copper globally and still relies on imports for 25% of its needs, prompting new calls from Chinese miners to launch new rounds of ore prospecting in the country.

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