UK Inflation Eases To 20-Month Low Amid Falling Petrol Prices

(RTTNews) - UK consumer price inflation slowed in November to its lowest level in twenty months, in line with economists' expectations, helped by falling petrol prices.

The consumer price index rose 2.3 percent year-on-year following a 2.4 percent increase in October, data from the Office for National Statistics showed on Wednesday. The latest inflation rate was the lowest since March 2017, when inflation was at the same level.

On a month-on-month basis, the CPI edged up 0.2 percent in November, matching economists' expectations.

Core inflation, which excludes prices of energy, food, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, slowed to 1.8 from 1.9 percent in October. The easing was in line with economists' expectations.

Inflation based on the CPI including owner occupiers' housing costs was steady at 2.2 percent in November.

"Inflation was little changed as falling petrol prices, thanks to a substantial drop in the cost of crude oil, were offset by rises in tobacco prices following the duty changes announced in the Budget," ONS Head of Inflation Mike Hardie said.

The ONS also reported that input price inflation nearly halved to 5.6 percent in November from 10.3 percent in October. Economists had expected a lower figure of 4.9 percent.

Output price inflation slowed to 3.1 percent from 3.3 percent, slightly above economists' prediction of 3 percent.

Separate data from ONS showed that house price inflation eased to 2.7 percent from 3 percent in September. The latest increase was the smallest since July 2013, when prices rose at the same pace.

London house prices fell 1.7 percent in the year to October after a 1.8 percent drop in the year to September.

"If wage growth continues to outperform then the Bank of England will be keen to continue hiking rates in 2019 - potentially much earlier than markets currently anticipate," ING economist James Smith said.

"However, this relies on a workable Brexit solution being found, and of course, this remains a 'big if'."

Smith suspects that the central bank will be forced to hold fire through much of the first half of next year, as growth stalls, and potentially even longer should the article 50 period need to be extended to allow more time to reach a Brexit solution.

The Bank of England is set to announce its latest policy decision on Wednesday. The bank is expected to maintain interest rates and its asset purchase target unchanged.
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