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Steady UK inflation leaves question mark over BoE rate action

Reuters  |  LONDON 

By David Milliken and Jonathan Cable

(Reuters) - British unexpectedly held steady in October, wrong-footing the of and raising fresh questions about how fast the central will follow up on this month's interest

The annual rate of consumer price was unchanged from September's five-and-a-half-year high of 3.0 percent, official data showed.

When the BoE raised rates for the first time in a decade in early November, it said it expected would hit 3.2 percent in October before starting to fall slowly towards its 2 percent target.

"Red faces all round as fails to rise as widely expected, not least by the of England," said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at financial data company IHS Markit.

Sterling fell against the dollar and British government bond prices rose as markets lengthened the odds slightly on a new BoE in the foreseeable future.

Most economists polled by after the Nov. 2 rate rise said they did not expect the BoE to raise rates again until 2019. On Tuesday financial markets - which tend to take a more hawkish view - priced in no increase until late 2018.

While in many developed countries remains weak, in it has surged from just 0.5 percent at the time of the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union as the fall in the pound pushed up the cost of imported goods.

October's data showed that lower fuel price was offset by the biggest rise in food prices since September 2013.

Many economists have said this month's rate rise was unnecessary because of the slowing domestic economy, weak productivity and wage growth, and uncertainty about Britain's future trade relationship with the EU.

Economists polled by expect wage data due on Wednesday to show pay growth stuck at just over 2 percent.

DATA DILEMMA

The argues that leaving the EU will damage Britain's ability to grow as fast as before without generating excess inflation, and that the lowest unemployment rate since 1975 makes labour shortages and a rebound in wage growth a risk.

This month's rate rise was not aimed at directly curbing the recent surge in but at ensuring above-target does not become too entrenched in Britain, especially as the United States and euro zone begin to tighten monetary policy which could further weaken the pound.

The BoE has said it still expects to be slightly above target in three years' time. On Tuesday Carney reiterated that he was allowing longer than normal to return to target due to the Brexit uncertainties.

Paul Diggle, a senior economist at Aberdeen Asset Management, said would pick up again due to rising oil prices and residual effects of the weaker pound.

"The of is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On balance, we think (it) will have to hike interest rates at least once more next year."

Retail price inflation, a measure used to calculate payments on government bonds and many commercial contracts, hit a near six-year high of 4.0 percent, bad for Hammond who is due to announce a budget plan on Nov. 22.

But other data showed that underlying price pressures are easing. Costs of manufacturers' raw materials rose at their slowest pace since July 2016, a month after the Brexit vote.

"Our baseline case is that CPI has now topped out," Investec economist Philip Shaw said.

(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by John Stonestreet and William Schomberg)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, November 14 2017. 19:17 IST
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