Inflation remains at above-target 2.3%

13 April, 2017, 02:05 | Author: Elaine Woods
  • Office for National Statistics

The annual rate of inflation remained steady at 2.3% last month as lower fuel and flight costs helped offset rises in food and alcohol prices.

Non-food inflation inched up to 2.3 percent, with costs for health care, housing, transportation and communication all rising, suggesting stronger demand from an increasingly wealthy and rapidly ageing population.

The growth rate, nearly on par with market expectations, quickened from an increase of 0.8 percent in February.

Clothing and footwear price tags were also on the rise, climbing by 2% over the period in contrast to a 1% jump previous year.

RBI expected headline CPI inflation to undershoot the target of 5% for Q4 of 2016-17 in view of the sub-4 per cent readings for January and February.

The number of people out of work fell by 45,000 to 1.56 million in the three months to February, compares to the September to November 2016 period, while the number of people in employment rose by 39,000 to 31.84 million during the corresponding period.

Danske Bank economist Conor Lambe said: "Despite these relatively small falls, the data still shows that there is considerable inflationary pressure further up the supply chain, so consumer price inflation is expected to remain elevated for some time yet".

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With the Bank of England predicting inflation will hit close to 3 percent by the end of the year, real earnings are about to turn negative for most workers.

Beijing has said it wants to reorient the economy away from relying on debt-fuelled investment and towards a consumer-driven model, but the transition has proven challenging, leading to the slower growth readings in recent years.

"It is worth remembering that CPI in the USA is only just creeping up despite wages increasing in response to a stronger labour market".

This puts the jobless rate at 4.7%, unchanged from the prior month and in line with estimates, while the employment rate was steady at 74.6%, which is the joint highest since records began. "While house prices and rental costs rose over the year, the rates of increase continued to slow markedly".

Sheng Guoqing, a bureau analyst, said price increases in non-food sectors were overshadowed by price drops in food, resulting in the mild inflation in March.

That means that real wage growth stood at zero, once the effect of inflation was taken into account.

Gregory concludes: 'Given the uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations and the fact that there has been little sign of building domestic cost pressures, we continue to think that the MPC will hold off until the middle of next year before raising rates'.

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