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Inflation expected to fall rapidly

Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey has suggested that a recent easing in the headline rate of inflation could be a sign that “a corner has been turned.”

Data released last month by ONS showed that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) annual rate – which compares prices in the current month with the same period a year earlier – fell to 10.5% in December. This was the second successive monthly decline since inflation hit a 41-year high of 11.1% in October.

ONS said that easing price pressures for motor fuels and clothing had pushed down December’s headline rate. Dips in these sectors, however, were partially offset by a further sharp rise in the cost of food and non-alcoholic drinks, while restaurant and hotel prices also increased significantly.

Despite the latest fall, the annual rate of CPI inflation clearly remains well above the BoE’s 2% target level. Indeed, when releasing the data, ONS Chief Economist Grant Fitzner pointed out that, “Although we've seen a second consecutive easing, it is a fairly modest fall and inflation is still at a very high level with overall prices rising strongly.”

Economists and policymakers, however, are increasingly predicting that inflation has now peaked. Last month, for example, the BoE Governor said inflation looks set to fall “quite rapidly” from the spring as energy prices decrease and that the Bank was more optimistic inflation could be on an “easier path.”

Other data published last month also points to easing inflationary pressures. The latest producer prices data from ONS, for instance, unexpectedly revealed a drop in manufacturers’ input and output prices in December, with both recording the largest monthly fall since April 2020. In addition, a CBI survey found that British factories reported the slowest growth in costs for almost two years during the three months to January.

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