UK Inflation Slows to Near Three-year Low

A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
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UK Inflation Slows to Near Three-year Low

A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

Britain's annual inflation rate slowed to a near three-year low in April as energy prices cooled further, official data showed Wednesday, boosting the governing Conservatives before this year's general election.

The Consumer Prices Index slowed to 2.3 percent from 3.2 percent in March, the Office for National Statistics revealed in a statement, though it was still faster than the 2.1 percent analysts were expecting.

April marked the lowest level since July 2021, when inflation had stood at the Bank of England's 2.0-percent target.

The news comes after the British central bank this month signalled a summer interest rate cut, as it held borrowing costs at a 16-year peak of 5.25 percent to further dampen price rises.

Following the inflation data, most analysts said a rate reduction was unlikely to occur as soon as June, when the European Central Bank is forecast to decrease eurozone borrowing costs, AFP reported.

The Federal Reserve is also expected to cut US interest rates this year as global inflationary pressures subside.

Sharply lower inflation sets the scene for this year's general election, as beleaguered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservatives trail the main opposition Labor Party in opinion polls.

"Today marks a major moment for the economy, with inflation back to normal. This is proof that the plan is working and that the difficult decisions we have taken are paying off," insisted Sunak, who has made cutting inflation a top priority.

However, Labor finance spokesperson Rachel Reeves slammed the Tories' stewardship of the economy, which emerged in the first quarter from a shallow recession.

"Inflation has fallen but now is not the time for Conservative ministers to be popping champagne corks. Prices have soared, mortgages bills have risen and taxes are at a seventy year high," Reeves argued.

Prices are still rising on top of the sharp increases seen in recent years but at a far slower rate, with businesses and households weathering a cost-of-living crisis.

That has been worsened by elevated BoE interest rates which ramp up the cost of loans, denting disposable incomes and company investment, thereby crimping economic activity.

 



Egypt Says it Cut Foreign Debt by $14 Bln in 5 Months to May

The Central Bank of Egypt's headquarters is seen in downtown Cairo, Egypt March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
The Central Bank of Egypt's headquarters is seen in downtown Cairo, Egypt March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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Egypt Says it Cut Foreign Debt by $14 Bln in 5 Months to May

The Central Bank of Egypt's headquarters is seen in downtown Cairo, Egypt March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
The Central Bank of Egypt's headquarters is seen in downtown Cairo, Egypt March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Egypt reduced its external debt by $14 billion in the five months to end-May, the sharpest such decline in the country's history, a statement released on Monday by Egypt's press center said.
The country's external debt fell to $154 billion as of the end of May from $168 billion at the end of December, according to the statement which quoted an unnamed high-level source at the central bank.
Egypt quadrupled its debt over the last nine years to help among others fund a new capital, build infrastructure and support an overvalued currency.