UPDATE 1-Canada annual inflation rate edges up to 1.9 pct in March

(Adds details from report)

OTTAWA, April 17 (Reuters) - Canada’s annual inflation rate edged up to 1.9 percent in March from 1.5 percent in February, but remained just below the Bank of Canada’s 2.0 percent target for the third successive month, Statistics Canada data indicated on Wednesday.

The result was in line with the expectations of analysts in a Reuters poll. Excluding energy prices, which dropped by 1.2 percent from March 2018, the overall rate would have been 2.2 percent.

The Bank of Canada, which has put interest rate hikes on hold as the economy slows, said last month it expected overall inflation to stay slightly below 2.0 percent for most of 2019, in part due to cheaper gasoline.

Prices increased year-over-year in all eight major components of the index, Statistics Canada said, led by the transportation index at 1.9 percent.

The decline in energy prices slowed in March, with gasoline prices down 4.4 percent compared with an 11.9 percent fall in February.

Two out of three of the Bank of Canada’s measures of core inflation edged up into the 2.0 percent range, though CPI common, which the central bank says is the best gauge of the economy’s underperformance, stayed at 1.8 percent.

CPI median, which shows the median inflation rate across CPI components, rose to 2.0 percent while CPI trim, which excludes upside and downside outliers, was up to 2.1 percent.

Reporting by Julie Gordon and Dale Smith in Ottawa; Editing by Bernadette Baum