China March producer inflation cools, consumer inflation below forecast

Consumers Feel The Pinch With Christmas Around The Corner

With wages growing at the same rate or slightly slower than prices in the shops, many United Kingdom households are facing the prospect of a renewed squeeze on their incomes after a respite when inflation dipped to zero in 2015 and remained low past year.

Annual inflation in the United Kingdom stood at 2.3% in February and March, the fastest rate of price growth in over three years, overshooting the Bank of England's 2% target.

Commenting on today's prices data, ONS Deputy National Statistician Jonathan Athow jathers said ONS (ONS) April 11, 2017 Retail sales fell 1.0 percent in March from a year earlier on a like-for-like basis.

The Producer Price Index, which measures costs of goods at the factory gate, rose 7.6 percent, 0.2 percentage points lower than February's 7.8 percent, which was a eight-year record.

CPI inflation remained unchanged during March at 2.3%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), staying above the Bank of England's 2% target.

Compared to same period of 2016 air fare inflation dived 22.8%, reflecting an Easter weekend price spike which falls in April this year.

"This could be partly due to the supermarket price wars in the United Kingdom over this period which resulted in a downward pressure on food prices".

Oliver Kolodseike, senior economist at City forecasters the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said: "The squeeze on household finances is set to intensify during the year with the combination of rising consumer prices and weak wage growth set to act as a headwind to purchasing power".

The Consumer Price Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH) also hit 2.3% in March, the same rate as February's reading.

The NBS said that mining inflation cooled to a still-brisk 33.7% over the year, down from 36.1% in February, while raw materials prices grew by 14.9%, below the 15.5% level reported previously.

For one Bank of England policy maker, sluggish wage growth suggests there is slack in the labor market that could weigh on pay settlements for years, meaning there is no urgent need to raise interest rates.

Most price increases can be explained by the weakness of sterling since the Brexit vote which has made wholesale prices more expensive. The number of people claiming unemployment benefits jumped by 25.5k in March, well above expectations of a drop of 3k, while the prior month's figure was revised down.

United Kingdom living standards are under more pressure than at any time in 2 1/2 years and the squeeze is getting tighter.

Unemployment improved with 39,000 more people in work in the period to the end of February, though the headline unemployment rate remained at 4.7%.

It marks temporary respite from climbing prices following the post-Brexit collapse of the pound, but economists say that a late Easter is responsible for the pause.