Canada's inflation rate hits 18-year high, puts focus on central bank rate policy

OTTAWA, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Canada's annual inflation rate accelerated to an 18-year-high in September, driven by high gas prices, soaring housing costs and rising food prices, data showed on Wednesday, putting the focus on the Bank of Canada ahead of a rate decision next week.

Inflation increased to 4.4%, beating the average analyst estimate of 4.3%, to reach its fastest clip since February 2003, Statistics Canada data showed. It was the sixth consecutive month in which headline inflation topped the central bank's 1-3% control range.

"It suggests there is still momentum at the margin in terms of inflationary pressures that can't be just dismissed on base effects and other factors. So it's still a sustained overshoot," said Derek Holt, vice president of capital markets economics at Scotiabank.

Governor Tiff Macklem has said the Bank of Canada sees hot inflation as temporary, though last week he predicted supply chain bottlenecks meant it would probably take a bit longer than previously expected to come down.

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