Sask. prices up 1.5 per cent

By Will Chabun, with files from The Canadian Press January 25, 2014 - The consumer price index (CPI) in Saskatchewan rose by 1.5 per cent last year, down slightly from the 1.6 per cent seen in 2012, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

Releasing the annual CPI figures, the federal agency said the CPI rise averaged out to 0.9 per cent nationally and ranged from a negative number - -0.1 per cent in B.C. - to 2.2 per cent in Manitoba, where it had been 1.6 per cent in 2012.

Alberta's CPI increase was 1.4 per cent, an increase from the 1.1 per cent in 2012.

In all, the CPI rose in nine provinces.

Doug Elliott, publisher of the monthly statistical newsletter Sask Trends Monitor, said these figures represent "a bit of a glitch" because the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 saw a big drop in gasoline prices in southern Saskatchewan - and "there wasn't a corresponding drop this year".

He added there could be more inflation in the future if the Canadian dollar - which was at 90.29 cents U.S. before noon Friday - continues to fall against the American greenback.

That would benefit Canadian exports by making them cheaper, and thus more attractive, in markets that pay for them with American currency.

Balancing that, grocery and other products that originate in the U.S. would become more expensive.

"That's going to put some upward pressure on grocery prices," Elliott said, adding he's "a little bit concerned" that prices will take a jump upward.

And that's why he figures the rise in the CPI in a place like Saskatchewan, 1.5 per cent last year, might jump to between two and three per cent "over the next couple of years."

The Canadian Press reported that the Bank of Canada's ideal target for inflation is about 2.0 per cent as it believes persistent low inflation might be a sign of weakness in the economy. That prompted BMO chief economist Douglas Porter to quip in a commentary that the Bank of Canada has "lifted inflation to exalted status in their worry list."

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