Near-term inflation outlook benign, but RBI expected to hold on for now


That marked an increase of half a percentage point from the 1.9 per cent rate recorded in February and was the highest annual inflation rate since October 2014. The Bank's latest forecasts showed inflation peaking at 2.8% by the end of this year although other experts believe an even tighter squeeze looms as the currency's weakness works its way through the economy.

This was partially offset by a fall in the cost of fuel between March and April 2017.

Producer prices rose 3.6% in the year to April compared with an expected rate of 3.4% which will cause some concern. Higher air fares are the main reason which are being blamed on the later date of Easter this year. "Apart from this, inflation-impact of GST, and implementation of the pay commission and HR (house rent) allowance leave less room for a rate cut at this point of time" said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at ratings company CARE Ltd.

With wages increasing by just 1.9%, the new inflation figure highlights the growing pressure on living standards and consumer spending.

"The hawkish voters at the Bank of England have often talked of having "limited tolerance" to rising prices, and today's jump in headline CPI to 2.7% from 2.3% will certainly raise a few eyebrows on the (Bank's) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)".

He added: "However, there is an upside to the weaker pound and its inflationary impact: our exports become more competitive in overseas markets".

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Food prices also became more expensive in April, rising 0.2 per cent month-on-month after coming in flat past year.

Inflation rose sharply in April as price rises continued to drag on the British consumer at the highest rate since September 2013.

The Reserve Bank is expected to keep rates on hold this year as near-term inflation outlook is benign, but a cumulative 50 bps hike in 2018 is likely as growth accelerates, says a report. Analysts were expecting CPI to increase to 2.6% and for core inflation to rise to 2.2%. "In contrast, the Easter holidays fell in March 2016, [and] the uplift in prices was seen in the March 2016 data".

That drop in sterling is now starting to feed through into higher prices of imported goods, such as clothing, particularly women's clothing, which according to the ONS, rose faster than in any April since 2011.

"Bank of England policymakers predict inflation will peak at a little below 3% in the fourth quarter".