‘The Bank of England now certainly faces a less daunting task’
The UK Consumer Prices Index (CPI) has dropped to 3.9% in the year to November 2023, according to data from the Office for National Statistics released today (20 December).
The fall defied expectations, as economists had forecast inflation to decrease to 4.4% for the month from 4.6% in October 2023.
The largest contributions to the drop came from transport, recreation and culture, and food and non-alcoholic beverages, the ONS found.
Overall, the agency discovered there were no divisions with “large offsetting upward effects” during the month, with virtually all components either decreasing or remaining at the same level of October 2023.
Core CPI has also fallen in November 2023 to 5.1%, from 5.7% in October.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said inflation has now more than halved, inflationary pressures are being removed from the economy.
“Alongside the business tax cuts announced in the Autumn Statement this means we are back on the path to healthy, sustainable growth. But many families are still struggling with high prices so we will continue to prioritise measures that help with cost of living pressures,” he noted.
Quilter Cheviot head of fixed interest research Richard Carter said there has recently been a “sense of cautious optimism” surrounding inflation, boosted by today’s figures.
“The Bank of England now certainly faces a less daunting task in steering inflation back to its 2% target next year, without necessitating a deep recession,” he said.
Carter noted the economic picture remains “complex”, however, due to stagnation and subdued growth prospects for the UK, with a 0.3% contraction in GDP between September and October.
“This stagnation, leaving the output no higher than it was in January, paints a picture of an economy struggling to rebound from a series of unprecedented challenges,” he argued.
Although Carter acknowledged that an inflationary slowdown offers “a glimmer of relief for households”, it has not translated into robust economic activity.
He added: “While the UK’s economic performance mirrors the broader European trend, it starkly contrasts with the resilience shown by the US economy. Looking ahead, forecasts for 2024 remain muted, with the bank projecting a continuation of this stagnant growth phase.
“But while things have been bleak for some time, signs of recovery are emerging, with wages finally outpacing inflation and consumer confidence showing early signs of recovery and this morning’s relatively sizable drop in inflation.
“This modest rebound, in light of the myriad challenges faced this year, suggests a resilience in the UK economy that should not be underestimated.”
Cristian Angeloni (Professional Adviser)