Unexpectedly weak inflation report

The country's annual inflation rate slowed to an unexpectedly weak 1.6 per cent last month as the continued decline in food prices played a big role in offsetting the higher cost of gasoline.

The latest reading from Statistics Canada shows the pace of inflation decelerated from February's year-over-year reading of two per cent, which was right on the Bank of Canada's ideal target.

A consensus of economists had predicted 1.8 per cent inflation for March.

Statistics Canada's consumer price index shows some of the biggest downward forces on inflation were lower prices for clothing, footwear, fresh fruit and vegetables.

The report says year-over-year food prices fell 1.9 per cent in March,  a sixth-straight monthly decline.

The agency says higher costs for purchases such as gas and travel tours were among the primary contributors last month to the upward pressure on prices.