UK Inflation Accelerates To 41-Year Peak

File photo of Britain’s newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gestures as he delivers a speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London, on October 25, 2022. – Rishi Sunak was Tuesday appointed as Britain’s third prime minister this year, after outgoing leader Liz Truss submitted her resignation to King Charles III. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

 

British inflation has jumped to a 41-year high on soaring energy and food bills in a worsening cost-of-living crisis, data showed Wednesday on the eve of a key budget.

The Consumer Prices Index hit 11.1 percent in October, reaching the highest level since 1981, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

That compared with 10.1 percent in September, which matched the level in July and had already been the highest in 40 years.

Domestic fuel bills rocketed again despite the UK government’s energy price freeze as the market faced more fallout from key producer Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The October figure beat market expectations of 10.7 percent and was higher than the Bank of England’s forecast peak.

“Rising gas and electricity prices drove headline inflation to its highest level for over 40 years, despite the Energy Price Guarantee,” said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

Over the last year, gas prices have leapt by 130 percent and electricity prices by 66 percent, according to the ONS.

Runaway inflation comes despite state energy support, which sought to limit annual energy bills at an average of £2,500 per year.

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Finance minister Jeremy Hunt blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine for spiking prices, as well as the easing of pandemic curbs.

– ‘Tough’ decisions –

Hunt is expected Thursday to hike taxes and slash spending, despite the cost-of-living squeeze, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attempts to fix economic chaos wrought by predecessor Liz Truss.

“The aftershock of Covid and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is driving up inflation in the UK and around the world,” Hunt said Wednesday.

“This… is eating into pay cheques, household budgets and savings, while thwarting any chance of long-term economic growth.”

The Ukraine conflict has also sent inflation soaring to the highest level in decades worldwide, sparking economic turmoil.

That has forced major central banks to raise interest rates, risking the prospect of recession as higher borrowing costs hurt businesses and consumers.

The Bank of England this month sprang its biggest rate hike since 1989 to combat sky-high inflation — and warned the UK economy may experience a record-long recession until mid-2024.

The BoE lifted borrowing costs by 0.75 percentage points to 3.0 percent — the highest since the 2008 global financial crisis — to cool UK inflation that it saw peaking at almost 11 percent.

Hunt added that “tough” decisions would be needed in Thursday’s budget to help the BoE meet its 2.0-percent inflation target.

“We cannot have long-term, sustainable growth with high inflation,” he said.

The UK has meanwhile been blighted by strikes this year, as workers protest over wages that have failed to keep pace with surging inflation.

The retail prices index — an inflation measure which includes mortgage interest payments and is used by trade unions and employers when negotiating wage increases — rocketed to 14.2 percent in October from 12.6 percent in September, data showed Wednesday.

AFP

Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Hits 21.09% As Food Prices Soar

A file photo of a food trader at a market in Akure, the Ondo State capital. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television
A file photo of a food trader at a market in Akure, the Ondo State capital. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Nigeria’s inflation rate rose from 20.77% in September 2022 to 21.09% in October 2022 amid soaring food prices, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.

The Bureau also said that food Inflation was 23.72% in October 2022, from 23.34% in September 2022.

The NBS made this known in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) report for October 2022 released on Tuesday.

The CPI measures the rate of change in prices of goods and services.

“On a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate for October 2022 was 1.24 percent, this was 0.11 percent lower than the rate recorded in September 2022 (1.36 percent). This means that in October 2022 the general price level for the headline inflation rate (month–on–month basis) declined by 0.11 percent,” the report in part.

“The percentage change in the average CPI for the twelve months ending October 2022 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 17.86 percent, showing a 0.91 percent increase compared to the 16.96 percent recorded in October 2021.”

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The NBS blamed the rising inflate rate on importation cost, high energy cost, surging food prics amongst others.

“On a year-on-year basis, in October 2022, the urban inflation rate was 21.63 percent, 5.11 percent higher compared to the 16.52 percent recorded in October 2021. On a month-on-month basis, the urban inflation rate was 1.33 percent in October 2022, this was a 0.12 percent decline compared to September 2022 (1.46%).”

Japan To Spend $260bn To Tackle Inflation, Weak Yen

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to the media about the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on February 22, 2022.
STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Japan will spend $260 billion on a stimulus package to cushion the economy from the impact of inflation and the weak yen, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Friday.

But the central bank is refusing to budge from the ultra-loose policy that has hammered the Japanese currency this year, wiping out more than 20 percent of its value against the dollar.

The government hopes the 39 trillion yen in fiscal spending will rise to 72 trillion when private sector investments are taken into account, Kishida said after ministers approved an extra budget to partly fund the relief measures.

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“We want to protect people’s livelihoods, employment and businesses, while strengthening our economy for the future,” he told reporters, adding that the move should help push up GDP by 4.6 percent.

Prices are rising in Japan at their fastest rate in eight years, although the three-percent inflation rate remains well below the sky-high levels seen in the United States and elsewhere.

Japan — which has one of the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratios — has already injected hundreds of billions of dollars into its economy over the past two years to support recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday’s package, funded by a special budget of $200 billion, will include measures to encourage wage growth and support households with energy bills, which have spiked since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We’ll aim to push down prices by more than 1.2 percent next year by lowering electricity bills by 20 percent and curbing gasoline prices,” Kishida said.

It is also designed to help people and businesses affected by the plummeting yen, currently at 147 against the dollar.

Japan spent nearly $20 billion in September in an effort to curb the yen’s slide, and further expensive government interventions have reportedly taken place in recent days.

– No change from Bank of Japan –
The yen’s steep falls have been driven by the widening gap between the monetary policies of the US and Japanese central banks — with the Bank of Japan keeping rates ultra-low to encourage sustainable growth, while the Federal Reserve ramps them up.

Following a two-day policy meeting, the BoJ said it would keep its easy-money policy, defying growing pressure to tweak its strategy as the yen drops.

Bank Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said officials would stick to their guns until prices rise “in a sustainable manner”, adding there would be no change “any time soon”.

Kuroda declined to comment on suspected currency interventions in the past week, which the finance ministry has not confirmed.

But “it is extremely important that (forex rates) reflect economic fundamentals, and move in a stable manner”, he told reporters.

“The recent depreciation of the yen is rapid and unilateral,” which is “negative for the Japanese economy”, Kuroda said.

Ahead of the BoJ meeting, UBS economists Masamichi Adachi and Go Kurihara said that a mix of continued easing by the central bank and the government’s stimulus measures would be “optimal”.

That is because Japan’s inflation is not demand-driven, but largely down to soaring energy costs, they explained in a commentary.

This view was echoed by Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

“Japan’s economy faces weak demand due to price rises, in contrast to the United States, where demand is strong, with the Fed trying to cool down inflation,” he told AFP.

“It’s impossible that Japan would hike rates to curb inflation, for this reason.”

AFP

French October Inflation Highest Since 1985

 

French consumer prices rose at their fastest pace since 1985 in October, official data showed Friday, driven by rising energy, food and manufactured goods prices.

Year-on-year price growth hit 6.2 percent this month, statistics authority Insee said based on preliminary data, a new increase in inflation after it slowed in August. and September.

Food especially grew more expensive, at almost 12 percent, in a blow to the least well-off households who spend a larger share of their monthly budget at supermarkets.

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Meanwhile, energy prices added almost 20 percent, despite government interventions to limit bills for consumers that have kept overall inflation below levels seen in EU neighbours.

Russia’s war on Ukraine and the throttling of gas supplies to Europe has triggered an energy crisis on the continent – at the same moment when many of France’s vital nuclear power plants are offline for maintenance.

French inflation reached 7.1 percent year-on-year when measured using the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) yardstick preferred by the European Central Bank.

The Frankfurt-based ECB on Thursday announced a fresh bumper interest rate hike of 0.75 percent as it strives to bring price growth across the 19-nation eurozone under control.

“We will have further rate increases in the future,” central bank chief Christine Lagarde said. “There is still ground to cover.”

Insee will publish its final October inflation reading in mid-November.

AFP

Nigeria’s Inflation Hits 20.77 Percent, Highest Since 2005

A file photo of a food trader at a market in Akure, the Ondo State capital. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television
A file photo of a food trader at a market in Akure, the Ondo State capital. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Nigeria’s inflation rate has surged for the eight consecutive month, hitting a fresh 17-year-high amid rising food and energy costs, and the continued depreciation of the naira.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, inflation rose to 20.77 percent in September from 20.52 percent recorded in August, the highest since 2005.

Food inflation rose 23.34 percent year-on-year compared with 23.1 percent in August, while core inflation increased to 17.6 percent in September from 17.2 percent in August.

Meanwhile, upward pressures may see the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee raise borrowing costs for the fourth successive time in November.

Inflation: Spain To Cut Taxes For Low-Income Earners

Spanish flag

 

Spain’s leftist government said Thursday it will cut the income tax on lower-income households to help hard-hit consumers grapple with soaring inflation.

The government will reduce the income tax on people earning up to 21,000 euros ($20,200) per year, or one in two workers, Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero told a news conference.

At the same time, she confirmed the government will slap a new tax in 2023 and 2024 on residents whose wealth exceeds three million euros to help pay for inflation relief measures.

This so-called “solidarity” tax will affect some 23,000 people, or 0.1 percent of taxpayers, and raise 1.5 billion euros for state coffers over the two years, she added.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government announced last week that it would create a temporary tax on the wealthiest population without giving details.

“Since we began governing, we have been working to make our fiscal system more progressive, efficient and strong enough to support social justice,” Montero said Thursday.

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The announcement of the tax changes comes as Spain is gearing up for local elections in May 2023 and a general election expected at the end of next year.

Spain is battling a surge in inflation as a result of the fallout from the war in Ukraine and the reopening of the economy after pandemic-related lockdowns.

The country’s inflation rate eased to 9.0 percent in September as energy prices fell, down from 10.5 percent in August, but remains high.

Sanchez has in recent months rolled out aid packages to help households and businesses weather the inflationary pressure, which has soared across Europe due to the Ukraine war.

It has introduced free public transport, subsidised petrol prices and temporarily slashed the sales tax on gas among other measures, in moves that are expected to cost some 30 billion euros — or 2.3 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product.

AFP

South African Inflation Hits New 13-Year High

Volunteers and members of the public clean up the massive debris at the North Beach following heavy rains earlier the week in Durban, on April 15, 2022. (Photo by RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP)

 

 

Inflation in South Africa accelerated to its highest level in 13 years in July, pushed mainly by surging food, transport and electricity prices, official data showed Wednesday as workers staged protests over the high cost of living.

Consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 7.8 percent in July, up from 7.4 percent in June, the national statistics agency StatsSA said in a statement.

The publication of the latest statistics coincided with protests in major cities over the worsening economic conditions, which have been particularly crushing for the poorest in the continent’s most industrialised country.

Strikers led by South Africa’s two largest trade unions called for government action to combat rising poverty and the cost of living in the world’s most unequal country.

While the new inflation figure is bad news for consumers, economists see the country likely reaching a tipping point and believe inflation could ease in the coming months.

This “is likely the peak in the current inflation cycle,” according to Investec bank chief economist Annabel Bishop.

“Inflation will be lower this time next year,” said Dawie Roodt, an economist with the financial services firm Efficient Group.

Inflation has been soaring worldwide, fuelled by supply chain disruptions after the easing of Covid restrictions as well as surging energy and food prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For South Africans, it has resulted in rising costs for necessities including food, electricity, fuel and medication, the statistics agency said.

Although grain prices are on the decline internationally, Roodt said, “it takes as much as two years before a price shock works its way through the economy.”

Prices for breads and cereals were up 13.7 percent in July, from 11.2 percent in June. It means a loaf of white bread now costs 17.84 rand ($1.05) compared to 15.57 rand ($0.91) a year ago, the statistics agency said.

The price of fuel increased by 56.2 percent on last year.

Rising inflation prompted the country’s central bank to impose the steepest hike to the benchmark interest rate last month, raising it by three-quarters of a percentage point to 5.5 percent.

Roodt said another hike is likely to come.

It will have a spiralling impact on the broader economy with higher rates resulting in higher debt repayments for consumers, which will hit household budgets, said Christie Viljoen, senior manager and economist for PwC South Africa.

“This, in turn, results in reduced spending power for consumers and companies. This is a challenge for South Africa which is a consumer-driven economy,” he said.

The rising cost of living is taking a toll on a population where the unemployment rate hovers near 34 percent.

The government called the unemployment figures a “major concern” on Wednesday, saying more needed to be done to improve conditions following the pandemic.

“Job creation and economic recovery remain the top priorities for government,” said cabinet spokeswoman Phumla Williams in a statement.

Sweden To Help Consumers Facing High Electricity Costs

In this file photo taken on November 04, 2021, then Sweden’s Minister of Finance Magdalena Andersson delivers a speech after being elected party chairman of the Social Democratic Party at the Social Democratic Party congress in Gothenburg. Adam IHSE / TT News Agency / AFP

 

Sweden’s government on Wednesday vowed to compensate households and companies for soaring electricity costs in the wake of the Ukraine war, to the tune of up to 60 billion kronor ($5.76 billion).

At least half of the amount was to go to households who could expect to be compensated “this winter”, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told reporters.

“We have electricity and gas prices at a level we’ve never seen before”, she said.

On Wednesday, electricity on the Nordpool market hit a record 5.69 kronor per kilowatt hour in southern Sweden. It was expected to fall back slightly to 5.50 kronor on Thursday.

Swedish electricity prices have soared after Russia drastically curtailed gas supplies to Europe following its invasion of Ukraine.

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Gas prices have thereby soared, at a time when there is little wind energy being generated in northern Europe due to current weather conditions.

Svenska Kraftnat, the state-owned operator of the national grid, has therefore been raking in soaring so-called capacity fees, which have left it with a surplus despite massive investments in its grid, Andersson said.

That surplus should make its way back to consumers, Andersson said, adding: “The higher the electricity price goes, the higher the amounts we’re talking about”.

Hydropower accounts for about half of the electricity generated in Sweden, which also relies on nuclear and wind power.

It is not yet known what form the compensation would take nor when it would be introduced, but the government said measures could include lower electricity prices as well as direct refunds to households and companies.

The government has tasked Svenska Kraftnat with drawing up a concrete proposal by November 15.

The Social Democratic government’s announcement comes just three weeks ahead of legislative elections, with opinion polls putting the left and right blocs neck-and-neck.

AFP

Germany Plans €10b Inflation Relief Tax Package For Workers 

Christian Lindner (FDP) Federal Minister of Finance, speaks at a press conference about European financial policy. Photo: Britta Pedersen/dpa

 

Germany will offer tax relief worth 10 billion euros to help workers cope with soaring inflation, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Wednesday.

The package will raise base tax-free allowance as well as bring up the level from which the top income tax rate of 42 percent will apply.

Families will also benefit from higher tax exemptions for dependent children.

Inflation in Germany reached 7.5 percent in July, fractionally lower than the 7.6 percent recorded in June, fuelled mainly by soaring energy prices.

Lindner said his plan is aimed primarily at fighting the problem of employees who find themselves with a higher tax burden because they have received a pay increase to combat inflation.

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As a result, the gain the workers have received is wiped out essentially by the higher taxes due.

The phenomenon, called “cold progression”, also typically hits lower incomes harder.

Lindner said 48 million Germans would be facing higher taxes from January 2023 if no relief was offered.

“For the state to benefit at a time when daily life is becoming more expensive… that is not fair and also dangerous for economic development,” said Lindner.

AFP

Canada Inflation Soars To Four-Decade High

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 11, 2020 the Jacques-Cartier bridge in Montreal is seen on April 11, 2020.  (Photo by Eric THOMAS / AFP)

 

Canada’s rate of inflation continued to soar in June, hitting a four-decade high of 8.1 percent as sky-scraping gasoline led a broad increase in prices, the government statistical agency said Wednesday.

Analysts had been expecting worse, after a 7.7 percent jump in prices the previous month, while the data suggested inflation — at its highest level since January 1983 — may have peaked.

“Inflation continues to heat up, but not to temperatures analysts had expected,” Desjardins analyst Royce Mendes said in a research note.

This slightly weaker-than-anticipated reading “will come as good news for central bankers trying to control price pressures,” he added.

According to Statistics Canada, the cost to fill up cars and trucks went up 54.6 percent in the 12 months to June.

But in recent weeks, record gasoline prices have come down as crude oil tumbled.

The cost of purchasing a passenger vehicle in the month also rose, with demand outpacing supply as a result of the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage.

The lifting of most pandemic restrictions has also fueled an increase in tourism, with the return of sporting events, festivals and other large in-person gatherings leading to higher demand — and costs — for airfare, hotel rooms and restaurant meals.

Meanwhile, the costs of childcare, computer equipment and mortgage interest fell.

A red-hot housing market also cooled slightly, leading to lower real estate commissions.

AFP

Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Hits Five-Year High At 18.60%

A file photo of a woman at a market.

 

The consumer price index (CPI), which measures the rate of change in prices of goods and services, hit a five-year record high leapfrogging from 17.71 per cent in May to 18.60 per cent in June 2022.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) disclosed this in its consumer price index (CPI) report for June 2022, released on Friday.

Also detailed in the report, were recorded increases in all classifications of individual consumption according to purpose (COICOP) divisions that yielded the headline index.

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“On a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate increased to 1.82 per cent in June 2022, this is 0.03 per cent higher than the rate recorded in May 2022 (1.78 per cent),” the report reads.

The report also revealed that “in the month of June 2022, the urban inflation rate increased to 19.09 per cent (year-on-year); this is a 0.74 per cent increase compared to 18.35 per cent recorded in June 2021.”

It also said that on a month-on-month basis, the urban inflation rate rose to 1.82 per cent in June 2022, this is a 0.01 per cent increase compared to May 2022 (1.81 per cent).

The composite food index experienced a similar increase rising  to 20.60 per cent in June 2022 on a year-on-year basis; the rate of changes in average price level declined by 1.23 per cent compared to 21.83 per cent in June 2021.

The rate of changes in food prices compared to the same period last year
was higher due to higher foods prices volatility caused by COVID 19. This rise in the food index was caused by increases in the prices of Bread and cereals,

Food products n.e.c, Potatoes, yam, and other tubers, Meat, Fish, Oil and fat, and Wine. On a month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased to 2.05 per cent in June 2022, up by 0.03 per cent points from 2.01 per cent recorded in May 2022.

The average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending June 2022 over the previous twelve-month average is 18.62 per cent, which is 1.10 per cent points decline from the average annual rate of change recorded in June 2021 (19.72 per cent).

In June 2022, food inflation on a year-on-year basis was highest in Kwara (25.62%), Kogi (24.81%), and River (24.34%), while Jigawa (16.01%), Sokoto (16.24%) and Kaduna (17.75%) recorded the slowest rise in year-on-year food inflation.

On a month-on-month basis, however, in June 2022 food inflation was highest in Ebonyi(3.52%), Bayelsa (3.27%), and Ondo (3.25%), while Sokoto (0.11%), Taraba (0.94%) and Adamawa (1.22%) recorded the slowest rise on month-on-month inflation.

 

Euro Hits 20-Year Low Against Dollar On Recession Risk

A picture taken on June 29, 2021 in Paris shows a passport next to a mobile phone whose screen bears a EU Digital Covid certificate. (Photo by Olivier MORIN / AFP)

 

 

The European single currency sank Tuesday to its lowest level against the dollar since 2002 as data pointed to a growing recession risk in the eurozone.

The euro also dived as investors eyed aggressive interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve in its fight against inflation, in contrast with the European Central Bank which plans more modest increases.

Just before 0900 GMT, the shared eurozone unit tumbled to $1.0306, threatening a push towards dollar parity for the first time since the euro’s creation in 1999.

Economic growth in the eurozone floundered in June, a key survey showed Tuesday, hit by soaring inflation.

S&P Global’s closely-watched monthly purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which measures corporate confidence, fell to 52.0 in June from 54.8 in May.

The reading, which was a 16-month low, however remains above the 50-point level signalling expansion.

“Growing fears of a recession are hammering the euro lower, whilst the dollar is soaring on bets that the Fed will keep hiking rates aggressively to tame inflation,” City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta told AFP.

“Today’s PMI data from Europe have highlighted the risk of slowing growth at the end of the second quarter and raise the prospect of a contraction in activity in the coming months.”