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Canadian producer prices, building permits rise in May as coronavirus effects linger

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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian industrial producer prices rose 1.2% in May on higher prices for meat, fish and dairy products, Statistics Canada said on Monday, as supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and increased demand boosted meat prices.

The gain in producer prices followed four months of consecutive decreases and matched a flash estimate released by the statistical agency earlier this month.

Statscan said the May increase was driven by higher prices for meat, fish and dairy products as well as gains in energy and petroleum products. Of the 21 major commodity groups monitored by the agency, six rose, 11 fell, and four were unchanged.

Meat product prices rose 13.3%, led by fresh and frozen pork, which increased a record 31.3% as disruptions in the supply chain from the coronavirus pandemic and higher demand for meat products contributed to the gain.

Earlier this month, Statcan had said it expected meat prices would rise following outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canadian and U.S. meat plants that forced operations to shut down or reduce capacity.

Meanwhile, prices for energy and petroleum products rose by 4.6%.

In a separate release, the national statistical agency said Canadian building permits rose 20.2%, the largest percentage increase since March 2009, as some provinces eased constraints imposed on the construction industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the May figure was still 20.4% below the peak seen in January 2020, Statscan said.

The value of residential permits was up in six provinces, rising 18.7%, with most of the gains due to a jump in the value of permits in single-family homes, which rose 37.5%. Meanwhile, commercial permits jumped 20.8%

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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