Inflation rate jumps to highest level since September 2013

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The figures come after Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned last week of a "challenging time for British households" in 2017 as Brexit-fuelled inflation will eat into finances.

And the number of people in work rose by a strong 122,000, taking the employment rate to a new record of 74.8 per cent, the Office for National Statistics said.

"Although fuel prices fell between March 2017 and April 2017, they were 11.5% higher than they were in April 2016, thereby having an upward effect on the inflation rate".

Instead, the Bank has softened its previous forecasts for a rise in unemployment which it expects to stand at 4.7 per cent this year, still above the level which it considers inflationary.

Inflation hit a three-and-a-half-year high last month as the Brexit-hit pound and the timing of the Easter holidays pushed up the cost of living.

This rate of inflation was 2.6 per cent in the year to April.

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Pay including bonuses rose at an annual rate of 2.3% in the three months to February, according to the ONS.

The ONS said that the UK's consumer price index - the key measure of inflation - was 2.7%, up from 2.3% in March, and above the 2.6% forecast by economists before the release.

"We expect CPI to stay below 3% till July with a possibility of it going down to even 2.5% before moving up, but still staying below 4% till October " said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, chief economic advisor to State Bank of India (SBI).

Mike Currie at Fidelity International said prices are likely to continue to outpace wage growth, tightening the squeeze on household budgets. But energy price rises from the "big six" suppliers more than offset a slight drop in petrol prices and clothing and vehicle tax also added to the pressure.

Many economists say the impact of the fall in sterling on consumer prices will be felt more strongly in the coming months, and the central bank expects inflation to peak at almost 3 percent by the end of this year. But as traders realised that the latest figures are unlikely to change the BoE's outlook, sterling soon fell back to drop below the 1.29 level to trade around 1.2880 dollars in afternoon European session. "Survey data are already showing companies' costs are rising at a slower rate than earlier in the year, and recent weeks have seen some easing in global commodity prices, notably oil".

But he added that the Bank of England was still unlikely to increase interest rates from their 0.25% low.

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