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Inflation expected to have risen again in January

13 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt . Photo Aaron Chown PA Images

The Chancellor is expected to be dealt a Valentine’s Day blow as new data on Wednesday could show that inflation rose for the second month in a row.

Economists expect the figures will show that Consumer Prices Index inflation – a measure of the costs that households face – rose from 4.0% in December to 4.2% in January.

It would be a blow for households because their costs are rising faster than at the end of last year, although inflation is still less than half where it was a year ago.

Blip

It could also hurt the Government’s promises to help households out by getting inflation under control, although this is only likely to be a short-term blip before inflation begins to fall again.

Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics who believes that inflation hit 4.1% in January, said that regardless of Wednesday’s data, inflation is likely to fall considerably, to 3.4%, this month.

Economists will be tracking the data to try to figure out what influence it might have on the Bank of England.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is tasked with keeping inflation as close to 2% as possible.

One of the main ways it has to do this is by changing interest rates. By increasing rates it restricts the amount of money that mortgage holders have to spend, therefore reducing demand for goods and services. That can help take pressure off prices.

Delay cuts

So if inflation is higher than the 4.1% the MPC expected in its last forecast, that could make rate setters more likely to delay cuts to the base rate.

The higher-than-expected wage rises in Tuesday’s Office for National Statistics figures will also spark worries of delays to base rate cuts. Wage rises tend to push up inflation somewhat.

“Today’s wage rises contribute to tomorrow’s spending power, impacting demand and influencing inflation, so the Bank will be keenly monitoring average earnings growth in particular,” said Rob Morgan, chief investment analyst at Charles Stanley.

“Resilient wages have been a driver of sticky consumer price inflation, and they are not falling back into line as fast as the BoE (Bank of England) would like as it looks to return inflation to the 2% target.

“What’s more, a further inflationary impulse could lie in wait in the form of an increase to the national minimum wage of almost 10% from April, which stands to simultaneously increase costs for employers and bolster household spending power, potentially exerting further upward pressure on prices.”

Concerns

Martin Beck, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said: “On balance, the EY Item Club thinks the latest pay data should further calm the MPC’s concerns about the threat posed by a tight labour market to achieving low inflation on a sustainable basis.

“The committee will likely want to assess the impact of April’s sizeable rise in the national living wage before it’s sufficiently reassured on that subject.

“But the EY Item Club continues to think the MPC will start cutting interest rates in May, with a series of further reductions in bank rate following over the course of this year.”

On Tuesday, figures from the US showed that inflation slowed to 3.1% from 3.4% earlier, but the slowdown was less than the drop to 2.9% that had been expected.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
19 days ago

That must be the party line to Murdoch in his ear…

There is something of the night about him, don’t you think ?

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
19 days ago

He has a Smile/Smirk that a crocodile has when he is about to eat you Hunt the smiling assassin he wrecked the N H S and now the country

hdavies15
hdavies15
19 days ago

On the UP ? Did it ever come down ? Maybe the synthetic figure concocted by a government agency eased a little but hey us people out here in the real world are still feeling the chill.So do f**k right off Mr Hunt. You may think my head is up my arse but I can see what you are doing very clearly.

Jeff
Jeff
19 days ago

Hang on, Sunak said he is taking credit for bringing it down (we all know it wasn’t him), therefore Sunak must take the credit for it going up.

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