The annual inflation rate rose to 1.5 percent from November's 1.2 percent, short of analysts' forecasts for an increase to 1.7 percent.
Overall, prices were up in five of the eight major categories tracked by the federal agencies.
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The transportation index was up 3.0 per cent in December compared with a year ago, while the shelter index rose 2.1 per cent. But annual food prices fell for the third month in a row and were down 1.3 percent in December as Canadians paid less for fresh fruit and vegetables.
The CPI at the Canada level rose 1.5% last month while the provincial increase was slightly higher at 1.9%. Three new measures of core inflation remained at or below 2 per cent.
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Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, fell by 0.3% in December, compared to expectations for a 0.2% decline and after a prior drop of 0.5%.
Economists had expected a gain of 1.0 per cent for the month, according to Thomson Reuters.
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In addition to the inflation report, Statistics Canada reported Friday that retail sales climbed 0.2 per cent in November to $45.2 billion. The central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at 0.5 per cent Wednesday and policy makers said a rate cut remains on the table even as they look for another year of "solid" consumer spending to prop up growth. Sales at building material and garden supply stores rose 2.9 per cent, the most since the start of a year ago.