Canadian consumer prices rose 2.5% in the 12 months ending in January, led by 4.2% hike in food prices, 6.5% rise in energy costs

OTTAWA , February 17, 2012 () – Consumer prices rose 2.5% in the 12 months to January, led by increases for food and energy. The January rise followed a 2.3% increase in December.

Food prices rose 4.2% on a year-over-year basis in January following a 4.4% increase in December. In January, consumers paid 4.9% more for food purchased from stores and 2.8% more for food purchased from restaurants compared with January 2011.

The cost of energy advanced 6.5% in the 12 months to January, after rising 6.0% in December. Gasoline prices increased 6.8% in January. The electricity index rose 7.3%, with notable increases recorded in Alberta and Nova Scotia. Prices for fuel oil went up 17.1% while natural gas prices fell 0.7%.

On a year-over-year basis, prices rose in seven of the eight major components in January, the exception being recreation, education and reading. Transportation and food continued to post the largest increases.

The cost of transportation went up 3.7% in the 12 months to January, after gaining 3.3% in December. In addition to gasoline, prices increased for passenger vehicle insurance premiums (+3.4%) and for the purchase of passenger vehicles (+1.4%). Prices for air transportation also went up.

Food prices rose 4.2% on a year-over-year basis in January led by increases for food purchased from stores. Consumers paid more for meat (+6.5%), bread (+9.9%) and fresh vegetables (+8.3%).

Shelter costs went up 2.1% in the 12 months to January, following a 1.8% increase posted in December. In addition to electricity and fuel oil, consumers also paid more in homeowners' replacement costs. Conversely, mortgage interest cost decreased 0.4% in January after falling 0.7% the month before.

On a year-over-year basis, prices for recreation, education and reading declined 0.1% in January as consumers paid less for video equipment and travel tours.
Provinces: Prices up in all provinces

Consumer prices rose in every province in the 12 months to January. New Brunswick (+3.2%) posted the largest increase while British Columbia (+1.7%) recorded the smallest gain.

Prices in Quebec rose 2.8% on a year-over-year basis in January, after increasing 2.5% in December. Gasoline prices went up 11.4% following a 9.9% gain in December. Quebec consumers also paid more for food purchased from restaurants and for fuel oil. In January, prices in Quebec were affected by a one percentage point increase in the provincial sales tax.

In Alberta, prices increased 2.9% in the 12 months to January, matching the rise in December. The province continued to experience notable price increases for electricity. Conversely, of all the provinces, Alberta posted the smallest year-over-year gain for gasoline (+0.4%) in January. Passenger vehicle insurance premiums also went up.
Seasonally adjusted monthly Consumer Price Index increases

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, consumer prices increased 0.5% from December to January after decreasing 0.2% from November to December. The transportation index rose 1.3% in January following a 1.2% decline the month before.

The shelter index rose 0.2% after rising 0.4% in December. The indexes for food, household operations, furnishings and equipment, and alcoholic beverages and tobacco products also rose in January.

The Bank of Canada's core index rose 2.1% in the 12 months to January, after increasing 1.9% in December. Notable increases were recorded for electricity, food purchased from restaurants and homeowners' replacement costs.

The seasonally adjusted monthly core index rose 0.3% in January after falling 0.1% in December.

For a more detailed analysis, consult the publication The Consumer Price Index.

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