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

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.


Huawei's third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

Updated 16 October 2019

Huawei's third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

  • American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts
  • Huawei was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies

SHENZHEN, SHANGHAI: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s third-quarter revenue jumped 27%, driven by a surge in shipments of smartphones launched before a trade blacklisting by the United States expected to hammer its business.
Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecom network equipment and the No. 2 manufacturer of smartphones, was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts.
The company has been granted a reprieve until November, meaning it will lose access to some technology next month. Huawei has so far mainly sold smartphones that were launched before the ban.
Its newest Mate 30 smartphone — which lacks access to a licensed version of Google’s Android operating system — started sales last month.
Huawei in August said the curbs would hurt less than initially feared, but could still push its smartphone unit’s revenue lower by about $10 billion this year.
The tech giant did not break down third-quarter figures but said on Wednesday revenue for the first three quarters of the year grew 24.4% to 610.8 billion yuan.
Revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to 165.29 billion yuan ($23.28 billion) according to Reuters calculations based on previous statements from Huawei.
“Huawei’s overseas shipments bounced back quickly in the third quarter although they are yet to return to pre-US ban levels,” said Nicole Peng, vice president for mobility at consultancy Canalys.
“The Q3 result is truly impressive given the tremendous pressure the company is facing. But it is worth noting that strong shipments were driven by devices launched pre-US ban, and the long-term outlook is still dim,” she added.
The company said it has shipped 185 million smartphones so far this year. Based on the company’s previous statements and estimates from market research firm Strategy Analytics, that indicates a 29% surge in third-quarter smartphone shipments.
Still, growth in the third quarter slowed from the 39% increase the company reported in the first quarter. Huawei did not break out figures for the second quarter either, but has said revenue rose 23.2% in the first half of the year.
“Our continued strong performance in Q3 shows our customers’ trust in Huawei, our technology and services, despite the actions and unfounded allegations against us by some national governments,” Huawei spokesman Joe Kelly told Reuters.
The US government alleges Huawei is a national security risk as its equipment could be used by Beijing to spy. Huawei has repeatedly denied its products pose a security threat.
The company, which is now trying to reduce its reliance on foreign technology, said last month that it has started making 5G base stations without US components.
It is also developing its own mobile operating system as the curbs cut its access to Google’s Android operating system, though analysts are skeptical that Huawei’s Harmony system is yet a viable alternative.
Still, promotions and patriotic purchases have driven Huawei’s smartphone sales in China — surging by a nearly a third compared to a record high in the June quarter — helping it more than offset a shipments slump in the global market.