LONDON (Reuters) – British inflation fell unexpectedly in April, based on information that prompted contemporary questions on when the Bank of England would subsequent elevate rates of interest and pushed sterling to its lowest stage in opposition to the greenback this 12 months.
Consumer costs rose by an annual 2.four %, the Office for National Statistics mentioned on Wednesday, marking a 13-month low because the timing of the Easter holidays meant air fares pushed down on inflation final month.
Although the BoE had anticipated inflation to ease in April, most economists in a Reuters ballot thought it might maintain regular at 2.5 % and a few had forecast an increase. It was the second shock fall in a row after a drop in March’s figures.
“With consumers remaining cautious and borrowing appearing to have fallen substantially, a rate hike over the next few months is certainly not a done deal,” ING economist James Smith mentioned.
Investors priced in a one-in-three likelihood of the BoE elevating borrowing prices in August — the following time it updates its financial forecasts — down from 50/50 earlier this week.
Two weeks in the past the BoE avoided a hike that had at one level been extensively anticipated because it waited to see if the economic system’s weak begin to the 12 months merely mirrored heavy snowfall.
A Reuters ballot of economists, performed earlier than Wednesday’s information, confirmed most nonetheless anticipated an August hike. [BOE/INT]
High inflation, brought on by the pound’s drop after the 2016 Brexit vote, squeezed British shoppers final 12 months. Although it has receded from its November peak of three.1 %, it’s working above the BoE’s goal of two.zero %.
On Tuesday, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney cited a brand new sugar tax on mushy drinks, in addition to greater utility payments and petrol costs, as the reason why inflation in Britain “probably tips up a bit” within the coming months earlier than resuming a decline.
The ONS mentioned mushy drink costs rose sharply over the past couple of months however the general impression on inflation was small.
Data final week confirmed inflation within the euro zone additionally slowed in April.
Wednesday’s figures pointed to some indicators of inflation stress nonetheless within the pipeline in Britain.
Prices of products leaving factories elevated at a quicker fee than anticipated final month and the price of uncooked supplies — a lot of them imported akin to oil — was 5.three % greater than in April 2017, up sharply from a rise of four.four % in March and suggesting a future of weakening value development has ended.