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UK Inflation Falls But…

Inflation in Britain fell by less than expected, prompting investors to cut their bets on a Bank of England rate cut next month which would have given a boost to embattled Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before an election this year.

Consumer prices rose by an annual 2.3 percent, down sharply from a 3.2 percent increase in March and its lowest since July 2021 when it stood at 2.0 percent, the Office for National Statistics said.

But the BoE – which has an inflation target of 2 percent – and economists polled by Reuters had forecast a bigger drop to 2.1 percent.

Services inflation – a key gauge of domestically generated price pressure for the BoE – was much higher than expected, while petrol prices also rose.

Sterling jumped after the data and investors priced the chance of a BoE rate cut in June at just 18 percent down from 50 percent on Tuesday.

Economists had widely expected a sharper drop in inflation, citing a 12 percent drop in regulated household energy tariffs that took effect last month.

“While inflation continues to fall sharply, this report will come as a disappointment to the Bank of England and investors looking for a rate cut in June,” said Luke Bartholomew, senior economist at asset manager abrdn.

“In particular the strength of core inflation and services inflation, both of which came in a fair bit stronger than expected, will make it harder for the Bank to feel confident that underlying inflation pressure is cooling adequately.”

Services inflation only inched down to 5.9 percent from 6.0 percent in March. The BoE’s forecasts and the Reuters poll had pointed to a reading of 5.5 percent.

REUTERS

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