UK Inflation Rises at Fastest Pace In 30 Years on Soaring Energy Costs

British consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in 30 years last month, fueled by soaring costs for household energy and motor fuels the latest grim figures as inflation surges around the world.

Inflation in the United Kingdom accelerated to 7% in the 12 months through March, the highest annual rate since March 1992, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday.

The UK faces what economists say will be the biggest drop in living standards since the mid-1950s as rocketing energy costs, rising food prices and tax increases overshadow higher wages.

People around the world are feeling the squeeze of inflation as demand rapidly bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine further drove up energy costs and squeezed supply chains.

In the United States, consumer prices last month jumped 8.5% from a year earlier, the fastest pace in more than 40 years, the Labor Department said Tuesday. In the 19 European countries using the euro, inflation surged to 7.5% last month, the fifth consecutive month that it has hit a record high.

In the UK, the toll of rising rising means disposable household incomes, adjusted for inflation, are expected to drop by 2.2% this year, according to the government’s independent budget adviser.

Household natural gas prices jumped 28.3% over the last year, and electricity prices rose 19.2% as the global recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing worldwide demand for energy.

Prices will continue to rise after Britain’s energy regulator authorized a 54% increase in gas and electricity bills for millions of households that took effect in April.

Transportation costs are also rising, with the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel rising by an average of 30.7% over the past year, the biggest increase since current records began in January 1989, the Office for National Statistics said.

Countries are moving to ease the pain from rising food, fuel and other costs by raising interest rates. The has raised raised its key interest rate three times since December, and the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked its benchmark short-term rate last month and is expected to keep raising it, possibly aggressively.

The European Central Bank, meanwhile, has sped up its exit from economic stimulus efforts to combat inflation but has not taken more drastic steps. It meets again Thursday.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Source: UK inflation rises at fastest pace in 30 years on soaring energy costs | Business Standard News

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According to the ONS, part of the increase in inflation as measured by the consumer prices index was caused by the bounceback in prices after they were depressed during lockdown. There were also sharp rises in the cost of secondhand cars (up 5.6%) because the supply of new vehicles has been affected by a global shortage of computer chips.

Rising oil prices led to a sharp increase in motoring costs. The annual inflation rate for motor fuels stood at 20.3% in June, the highest since 2010, after an increase in average petrol prices from 106.5 pence a litre to 129.7 pence a litre over the past 12 months. Other contributors to rising inflation included furniture (up 6.6%), women’s clothes (4.3%), bicycles (13%), books (8%) and vet bills (4.2%).

Jonathan Athow, the deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The rise was widespread, for example coming from price increases for food and for secondhand cars where there are reports of increased demand. “Some of the increase is from temporary effects, for example rising fuel prices which continue to increase inflation, but much of this is due to prices recovering from lows earlier in the pandemic.

An increase in prices for clothing and footwear, compared with the normal seasonal pattern of summer sales, also added to the upward pressure this month.” Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at the consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics, said businesses were seeking to take advantage of strong consumer demand after the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.

“The rise in the core rate in June was driven by increases in clothing inflation to 3.0%, from 2.1% in May, and catering services inflation to 2.2%, from 1.4%. In addition, a jump in secondhand cars inflation to 5.5%, from 0.9%, boosted the headline rate by 0.08 percentage points.”

Britain is not alone in experiencing stronger price pressures during a period marked by strong post-lockdown growth. Earlier this week the US reported that its inflation rate had hit a 13-year high of 5.4%. Analysts expect further increases over the coming months before it starts to come down again.

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U.K. Opens National Security Probe Of Nvidia’s Takeover Of Chip Designer Arm

The British government has opened a six-month probe into Nvidia’s takeover of the Cambridge, England-based chip designer Arm on national security grounds.

The $40 billion deal to buy the semiconductor businesses that helps power smartphones, tablets and countless other devices from SoftBank was announced in September 2020 but now faces a gauntlet of antitrust reviews to be approved.

The U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced on Tuesday that it would push for the British antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), to run a six-month in-depth review of the deal on competition and national security grounds.

The deal had already been flagged by the CMA in January over fears that Nvidia’s takeover would lead to its rival losing access to Arm’s innovative chips that power Apple, Samsung and Sony devices, while the U.S., China and the European Union have also opened competition probes.

“Arm has a unique place in the global technology supply chain and we must make sure the implications of this transaction are fully considered. The CMA will now report to me on competition and national security grounds and provide advice on the next steps,” Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said in a statement. “The government’s commitment to our thriving tech sector is unwavering and we welcome foreign investment, but it is right that we fully consider the implications of this transaction.”

The deal has been opposed by Google, Microsoft and chipmaker Qualcomm, who argued that takeover would threaten Arm’s position as the “Switzerland of the chips’ licensing to powerful and energy-saving technology to virtually all the world’s major chipmakers and smartphone producers, according to Bloomberg.

The new delay will be a blow to Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang and SoftBank, which bought Arm for $32 billion in 2016. Nvidia was once famous for its video games’ graphic chips, but its focus on powering data centers has helped catapult the business to a $757 billion market cap, with its shares up more than 500% since the Arm deal was announced in September 2020.

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Source: U.K. Opens National Security Probe Of Nvidia’s Takeover Of Chip Designer Arm

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Inside the UK’s Post-Brexit Economy: Why Investors Should Have an Eye on London

London is firmly open for business, and that is a message emanating from the gleaming towers of the city, the corridors of government and the flashing screens of the stock exchange.

wo years ago, the British press was full of news about leaving the European Union (which the UK did formally on January 31, 2020). It was a theme which had dominated the media for years, and there seemed little sign of it changing. Then, news began to emerge of a strange new respiratory virus in a Chinese city called Wuhan…

Now, the worst excesses of COVID-19 seem to be abating, and parts of the world are starting to shake off the strictures of lockdown. We have found, perhaps to our surprise, that life goes on. It is very far from business as usual—adaptation is one of the key skills of the new economic landscape—nevertheless, the world keeps turning, and we must turn with it.

So, what is it like in the UK? What are the opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders? How has the landscape changed? Is the UK economy different than it was before?

At the moment, London is a thriving center for the tech industry, home to more than 60 unicorns, according to the annual report of growth platform Tech Nation. Some are growing at an extraordinary rate: DivideBuy, a lending platform, reported average growth of 20,733 percent over a three-year period, while Popsa, a photobook specialist, went up 10,576 percent. And IPOs are on the rise, too; technology and consumer internet listings accounted for more than half of total capital raised in the first six months of 2021.

This development should be prominently on the radar of investors and others. London has traditionally lagged behind the U.S. for tech floatations, but the momentum is firmly on the eastern side of the Atlantic right now. One reason is that tech is becoming understood in a broader context; it is no longer just software and social media, but the heart which drives platforms in all sectors—and that is where London gains an advantage.

The capital has strength in depth in areas like energy, telecommunications and financial services, and that infrastructure increasingly gives it the edge over not just Amsterdam or Frankfurt but even New York. Observers from the U.S. should also be aware of the emerging regulatory environment. The UK government sponsored a review of how companies raise money on the capital markets, led by former cabinet minister and EU commissioner Lord Jonathan Hill of Oareford.

Its recommendations were published with a distinctly deregulatory flavor and have been warmly welcomed by the UK Treasury. Chancellor Rishi Sunak remarked: “Our vision is for a more open, greener and more technologically advanced financial services sector.” That vision is being delivered on a number of fronts. The prospectus regime for companies seeking finance will be reviewed and made “less burdensome” (code for less exhaustive and rigorous).

The government also intends to relax the rules on dual-class shares, allowing differentiated voting rights but only for up to five years and with a maximum voting ratio limited to 20:1. The free float requirements will also be reduced from 25 percent to 15 percent.

All of this is a strong sign of intent. The political establishment has argued bitterly over a vision for the UK after Brexit, but a constant theme has been the creation of a free-market, light-touch-regulation, agile trading hub modelled in part on Singapore and the ghost of colonial Hong Kong. The current conservative administration, pandemic notwithstanding, has a buccaneering wind in its sails, and the effects on investment are clear.

However, there is something more, something besides share prices and rules and floatations. There is, unquestionably, a new mood in the City of London. Like any financial hub, it still bears the scars and the bloodied hands of the financial crisis. But financial services are growing in confidence, beginning to point to the contribution they make to the wider economy and realizing that they have somehow survived the worst of the pandemic.

This new mood combines relief—life, as I noted earlier, goes on—and eager openness. The UK has much to prove in the wake of Brexit, as witnessed by the hyperactivity of international trade secretary Elizabeth Truss, forging deals around the world. Early predictions of the collapse of UK financial services have been proved wrong.

Fund managers are looking at new regulation changes; the overall European market is fracturing among Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Dublin, Luxembourg and Paris; and current estimates are that only 7,400 jobs have been relocated from London to other European centers.

London is firmly open for business, and that is a message emanating from the gleaming towers of the city, the corridors of government and the flashing screens of the stock exchange. There is a sense that anything is possible. Anyone who works in business or finance should prick up their ears, and maybe look at upcoming flights to London.

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By: Eliot Wilson

Eliot Wilson is the cofounder of Pivot Point, a change management, strategy and PR consultancy based in London.

Source: Inside the UK’s Post-Brexit Economy: Why Investors Should Have an Eye on London – Worth

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Bank Of England Warns Of Worst Economic Slump Since 1706

The Bank of England has warned that the U.K. economy could fall into its worst recession on record and could contract as much as 25% in the second quarter as the pandemic and lockdown measures have impacted businesses and workers.

In its latest monetary policy report, the U.K.’s central bank set out a range of scenarios for the economy, based on lockdown measures being gradually eased between June and September.

It suggested that while the economy contracts 2.9% in the first quarter, it could fall 25% in the second quarter, and shrink 14% this year.

That would make it the sharpest fall since 1706, according to Bank of England data.

Unemployment could also rise to 9%—beyond the 8% seen in the previous financial crisis—despite the British government’s job retention scheme covering 80% of wages, the bank said.

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey is hopeful of a rapid recovery with a forecast that GDP will rebound by 15% in 2021, and that “there is only limited scarring to the economy” thanks to government lifelines.

In early March, the British central bank made an emergency rate cut to 0.25%, before slashing it further to a record low of 0.1% days later, to soften the impact of the coronavirus on the British economy.

The BoE held off expanding its economic stimulus programme but two of the nine member monetary policy committee voted for additional bond buying.

Big number

Consumer spending is expected to plummet by 30% in the three months to June, compared to the last three months of 2019, the bank said.

Crucial comment

Adrian Lowcock of investment platform Willis Owen, said: “The Bank’s latest forecasts are the stuff of nightmares, with the UK tipped to see its economy shrink by 14% this year – a far worse decline than the one seen during the global financial crisis – while unemployment will leap to 9 million.

“The only good news today is that the Bank expects this economic bombshell to be short-lived, and for the economy to bounce back rapidly. However, the MPC itself concedes it is flying blind to a large extent, warning that a pandemic like this is “especially difficult to quantify.”

Key background

The Bank of England has introduced a raft of measures to cushion the British economy against the economic shock of an almost total shutdown of swathes of businesses. In addition to the interest rate cuts, the bank has injected a total of £645 billion ($752 billion) into the economy, mostly used to buy up government bonds. On Thursday, the bank’s governor, Andrew Bailey, said it was ready to provide additional support if needed, but the bank stopped short of agreeing on a further £100 billion ($123 billion) in quantitative easing, despite two members of its Monetary Policy Committee voting for it.

Further reading

Monetary Policy Report press conference (Bank of England)

Monetary Policy Report (Bank of England)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night reporter at the Guardian. I studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where I was a writer and editor for one of the university’s global affairs magazines, the London Globalist. That led me to Goldsmiths, University of London, where I completed my M.A. in Journalism. Got a story? Get in touch at isabel.togoh@forbes.com, or follow me on Twitter @bissieness. I look forward to hearing from you.

Source: Bank Of England Warns Of Worst Economic Slump Since 1706

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