UK consumer price inflation slowed less than expected in April and the core rate accelerated unexpectedly to a 31-year high, strengthening the case for another interest rate hike from the Bank of England in June.
The consumer price index, or CPI, registered an annual increase of 8.7 percent in April after a 10.1 percent gain in March, the Office for National Statistics reported Wednesday.
Although inflation eased from April, the rate was above economists’ forecast of 8.3 percent.
Core inflation that excludes energy, food, alcoholic beverages and tobacco advanced to 6.8 percent in April from 6.2 percent in the previous month.
Core inflation rose to the highest since March 1992, while economists had expected the rate to remain unchanged at 6.2 percent.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices gained 1.2 percent, which was faster than the 0.8 percent rise in March.
“The combination of resilient activity and rapidly easing inflation always looked a bit too good to be true to us,” Capital Economics’ economist Paul Dales said.
The research firm had earlier expected that a near-term recession would quash inflation. But it now looks as though the central bank is going to have to hike interest rates even higher to generate the necessary economic weakness, Dales said.
Inflation data undoubtedly makes life harder for policymakers and no doubt raises the chance of yet another 25 basis point rate hike next month, ING economist James Smith said.
The next monetary policy announcement is due on June 22. The BoE had lifted its benchmark interest rate over the last twelve straight sessions to its highest level since 2008.
In the concluding statement of the Article IV Mission of International Monetary Fund released Tuesday, staff said the UK economy is set to avoid a recession and that the monetary policy will need to remain tight to keep a lid on inflation.
The Washington-based lender cautioned that inflation would remain above the 2 percent target until mid-2025.The IMF warned against “premature celebrations” in the fight against inflation.
The ONS said slowdown in overall inflation was driven by electricity and gas prices as last April’s rise dropped out of the annual comparison. Nonetheless, electricity and gas prices contributed 1.01 percentage points to annual inflation.
At the same time, food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to rise in April. However, the annual increase in food and non-alcoholic beverages prices eased to 19.1 percent from 19.2 percent.
Input price inflation hit its lowest level since February 2021 and factory gate inflation reached the weakest since July 2021, the ONS said in a separate communique.
Input prices grew only 3.9 percent in April after March’s 7.3 percent increase. At the same time, month-on-month, input prices fell 0.3 percent, reversing a 0.2 percent rise in March.
Output price inflation slowed to 5.4 percent in April from 8.5 percent in the previous month. On a monthly basis, output prices remained flat for the second straight month.
Elsewhere, the monthly Industrial Trends survey results from the Confederation of British Industry showed that a net 17 percent of manufacturers said total orders declined in May compared to 20 percent in April.
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