Autos fuel Canada retail sales in March, inflation holds in April

Canada's inflation rate falls with gas prices

A man prepares to fill his car's gas tank in Toronto

The annual inflation rate matched Statistics Canada's reading for March but was below a consensus estimate of 1.7 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters data. Lack of inflation pressures is one of the main reasons why the Bank of Canada, which has a mandate to target a 2 percent inflation rate, isn't expected to match interest rate increases this year by the Federal Reserve.

"The modest core inflation we're seeing is probably the single, strongest argument the Bank of Canada has to do nothing", Porter said, adding that ongoing uncertainty over USA policy, particularly on trade, would be up there as well.

Nye said he expects the central bank to maintain a cautious tone in their policy announcement next week, reinforcing market expectations that a rate hike is unlikely this year.

The indicators are closely scrutinized by the Bank of Canada.

Two of the three gauges of underlying, or core, inflation also advanced at a slower pace compared with the previous month. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast the index would rise 1.7 percent on the back of higher gasoline prices.

Manitoba's retail sales also edged higher in March, rising by 0.3 per cent to $1.64 billion from $1.63 billion in February.

The nation's number crunchers reported Friday that gasoline prices bolted higher 9.5% for the month, partly due to supply disruptions at oil refineries, as they changed over to summer fuel blends.

Economists had predicted a 0.4 per cent increase in retail trade for March, according to Thomson Reuters.

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