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    Inflation slows to lowest level since September 2021

    Photo: iStock

    Britain’s annual inflation rate fell more than expected in February, official data showed Wednesday, fuelling speculation that the Bank of England will cut interest rates this year.

    Inflation reached 3.4 per cent last month – the lowest level since September 2021 – after hitting 4.0 per cent in January, according to the Office for National Statistics.

    The consensus had been for consumer prices to rise by 3.5 per cent in February, according to a Bloomberg survey.

    Inflation remains well above the Bank of England’s two-percent target.

    The BoE is widely expected to keep its main interest rate on hold in an announcement due Thursday following its latest regular monetary policy meeting.

    But analysts foresee a possible cut as soon as June.

    ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said “food prices were the main driver of the fall, with prices almost unchanged this year, compared to a large rise last year”.

    On a monthly basis, CPI rose 0.6 per cent last month compared with a rise of 1.1 per cent in February 2023, the ONS said.

    Chancellor Jeremy Hunt welcomed the news.

    “Inflation has not just fallen decisively but is forecast to hit the two-percent target within months,” he said in a statement.

    “This sets the scene for better economic conditions which could allow further progress on our ambition to boost growth.”

    Ahead of a general election this year at which his Conservative party is forecast to lose power to main opposition Labour, Hunt cautioned against “increasing borrowing or cutting funding for public services” to fund tax cuts.

    (AFP)

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