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Canadian inflation may have peaked in June as gas prices soared: economists

Economist says the numbers last month were actually lower than expected
Canada’s inflation rate reached 8.1 per cent in June on a year-over-year basis as prices for most goods and services continued to rise. A commuter pumps gas into their vehicle at a Esso gas station in Toronto on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Economists are predicting Canada’s inflation rate may have peaked in June as soaring gas prices pushed the cost of living up 8.1 per cent compared with a year ago, its hottest pace in nearly 40 years.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday the annual inflation rate for June was up from 7.7 per cent in May and marked the largest yearly change since January 1983 when it hit 8.2 per cent.

The increase in the consumer price index for the month was largely due to higher gasoline prices, which shot up by more than 50 per cent compared with a year ago.

Excluding gasoline, the country’s inflation rate was 6.5 per cent in June compared with 6.3 per cent in May.

CIBC senior economist Karyne Charbonneau said the headline reading for inflation was lower than expected and called it the “first negative surprise on inflation in many months.”

“With gasoline prices expected to fall next month, we could finally have seen peak inflation,” Charbonneau said in an email.

According to retail analytics platform Kalibrate, gas prices have dropped from a peak of $2.14 per litre in mid-June to $1.88.

Douglas Porter, chief economist at the Bank of Montreal, said the June inflation reading was “better, but not good.”

“There is likely to be some relief in next month’s report, as gasoline prices are currently tracking roughly a nine per cent drop in July,” he said in a report. “However, the concern is that other costs remain robust.”

“While a pullback in pump prices could calm headline inflation next month, we will need to see core relent for inflation to truly peak.”

RSM Canada economist Tu Nguyen said she thinks it’s premature still to declare that Canada has reached the peak of inflation.

Nguyen said there are still many uncertainties when it comes to global pressures on inflation, including the war in Ukraine and an ongoing pandemic that could shut down manufacturing overseas in places like China.

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