Relief for UK buyers as consumer prices drop more than expected

The Office for National Statistics said food prices represented the biggest drag on September’s inflation rate. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Relief for UK buyers as consumer prices drop more than expected

  • Consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 2.4 percent, more than reversing August’s jump to a six-month high of 2.7 percent
  • The figures are likely to reassure Bank of England officials

LONDON: British inflation fell more than expected in September to a three-month low, offering some relief to consumers who have been squeezed financially since the Brexit vote.
Consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 2.4 percent, more than reversing August’s jump to a six-month high of 2.7 percent, the Office for National Statistics said.
That was well below the consensus forecast of 2.6 percent in a Reuters poll of economists.
Sterling fell against the dollar and euro while British government bond prices rose.
The figures are likely to reassure Bank of England officials who forecast in August that inflation would average around 2.5 percent over the July-September quarter.
“Coupled with the gradual up-tick in wages, the slowing rise in prices will deliver a boost to consumers’ real take-home pay packets, which will also be welcome news for retailers,” said Tej Parikh, senior economist at the Institute of Directors.
“The Bank of England will be unruffled by this week’s data releases, and remains unlikely to budge on interest rates as it continues to monitor the impact of Brexit developments.” The BoE expects it will need to raise interest rates gradually in response to rising wages, assuming Britain manages to strike a deal with the European Union to smooth its exit from the bloc.
On Tuesday, the ONS said the basic wages of workers had risen at their fastest pace in nearly a decade over the summer months.
But wage growth of 3.1 percent remains meagre by historical standards when adjusted for inflation.
The BoE expects inflation to drift down but stay just above its 2 percent target in two years’ time as it gradually raises borrowing costs.
Consumer price inflation hit a five-year high of 3.1 percent in November, when the inflationary effect of the pound’s tumble after the Brexit vote in June 2016 reached its peak.
The ONS said food prices, particularly of meat and chocolate, represented the biggest drag on September’s inflation rate.
Ferry prices dropped from a “surprisingly high” summer peak.
Still, there could be more short-term pressure in the pipeline for consumer prices.
For manufacturers, the cost of raw materials — many of them imported — was 10.3 percent higher than in September 2017, up from a revised 9.4 percent in August.
That was a bigger jump than any economist had forecast in the Reuters poll, which anticipated a rise of 9.2 percent.
Manufacturers increased the prices they charged by 3.1 percent compared with 2.9 percent in August, again stronger than all forecasts in the poll, which had pointed to a 2.9 percent increase.
The ONS said house prices in August rose by an annual 3.2 percent across the UK as a whole, the smallest rise since August 2013 and compared with a 3.4 percent increase in July.
Prices in London alone slipped 0.2 percent.


Top seven Mideast-focused panels at Davos

Updated 24 min 26 sec ago
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Top seven Mideast-focused panels at Davos

Arab News DAVOS: Over 3,000 political, business and civil leaders are gathering in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting — including a sizeable delegation from Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East.
Several panels focusing on the region will be held during the four-day event; here are seven that caught our eye.
Follow the latest news, views and analysis from Davos here: http://www.arabnews.com/davos19

Tuesday, 5:45 p.m. — Strategic Outlook on the Middle East
A look at how regional leaders can unlock the full potential of its next generation of entrepreneurs and workers. Speakers include Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi Arabia’s minister of economy and planning.

Wednesday, 10 a.m. — An Insight, An Idea with Haifaa Al-Mansour
Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker and Crystal Award winner is due to speak about her dedication to breaking boundaries and shaping new stories.

Wednesday, 12 noon — The New Energy Equation
A panel on strategic shifts in energy cooperation and markets; speakers include Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih.

Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. — The Future of Science and Technology in Society
Sarah Al-Amiri, UAE minister for advanced sciences, is one of the speakers on this panel about how science and technology is reshaping politics, business and public policy.

Thursday, 9:15 a.m. — Next Steps for Saudi Arabia
Al-Tuwaijri, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, and Tadawul Chairperson Sarah Al-Suhaimi are the Saudi speakers on this panel about the Kingdom’s reform plans.

Thursday, 1 p.m. — Asia’s Bet on the Middle East
This panel on the shifting relations between the two regions includes Iraqi Finance Minister Fuad Hussein as a speaker.

Thursday 1:30 p.m. — A Conversation with Omar Al-Razzaz, Prime Minister of Jordan
The Jordanian PM is set to speak to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.