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    Inflation in surprise drop to 18-month low

    (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    Inflation unexpectedly slowed in August, data showed Wednesday, hitting an 18-month low and sparking hope this week’s widely-forecast interest rate hike by the Bank of England could be its last for now.

    The Consumer Prices Index dropped slightly to 6.7 per cent from 6.8 per cent in July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement on the eve of the BoE’s latest rate call.

    That was the lowest level since February 2022 and confounded market expectations for an acceleration to 7.1 per cent on higher energy prices.

    It comes one day after data showed eurozone inflation also slowed slightly in August.

    However, UK inflation still remains the highest in the G7.

    The BoE has so far ramped up its key interest rate 14 times in a row to the current level of 5.25 per cent in a bid to bring down red-hot inflation.

    The data “probably won’t be enough to prevent the BoE from raising interest rates… to 5.50 percent tomorrow”, said Capital Economics analyst Paul Dales.

    “But it supports our view that that will be the last hike”.

    The ONS added Wednesday that food prices rose by less in August than a year earlier.

    This impact was only partially offset by higher energy costs.

    “The rate of inflation eased slightly this month driven by falls in the often-erratic cost of overnight accommodation and air fares, as well as food prices rising by less than the same time last year,” said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

    “This was partially offset by an increase in the price of petrol and diesel compared with a steep decline at this time last year, following record prices seen in July 2022.”

    (AFP)

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