Saudi Arabia Works on Strengthening Legislation Frameworks to Combat Money Laundering

The 14th Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering (CAML) seminar was held on Monday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The 14th Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering (CAML) seminar was held on Monday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Works on Strengthening Legislation Frameworks to Combat Money Laundering

The 14th Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering (CAML) seminar was held on Monday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The 14th Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering (CAML) seminar was held on Monday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi authorities have been keen on strengthening legislative and regulatory frameworks to combat money laundering crimes, confirmed Deputy Governor for Supervision at the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) Yazeed AlSheikh.

Speaking at the 14th Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering (CAML) seminar in Riyadh, AlSheikh reaffirmed that the Kingdom attaches great importance to combating financial crimes, including money laundering and terrorism financing.

The deputy governor stressed that money laundering crimes and their accelerating developments constitute one of the major challenges facing the international community and governments worldwide.

It also negatively impacts the stability of financial and economic systems, explained AlSheikh, highlighting how this also threatens international peace and security.

AlSheikh stated that holding the CAML seminar reflects Saudi Arabia’s commitment to fulfilling its international obligations.

The seminar presents an appropriate opportunity for practitioners working in concerned authorities, financial institutions, and specific non-financial businesses and professions to learn about the best international experiences and practice in the field, added AlSheikh.

The exchange of experiences will strengthen and build the technical and knowledge capabilities of practitioners in the Kingdom, he reaffirmed.

Moreover, AlSheikh highlighted several important issues related to legislation and challenges related to combating proliferation financing and Internet fraud crimes.

CAML is organized by SAMA, Anti-Money Laundering Permanent Committee (AMLPC) and Refinitiv (An LSEG Business) and is held under the patronage of Ayman Alsayari, Governor of SAMA.

The annual event welcomes several regional and international speakers from Financial Institutions, Regulators, Technology firms and Advisory Groups. It is recognized as a valuable platform for an exchange of ideas and information between the Kingdom’s business leaders, financial institutions and local professionals.

CAML, in five sessions, tackled the topics including the latest global regulatory developments, the latest challenges in proliferation financing, cyber-enabled fraud crime, financial inclusion, and outsourcing AML activities.



Oil Prices Fall for Fourth Straight Day as US Rate Hike Prospects Emerge

FILE PHOTO: An oil storage tank and crude oil pipeline equipment is seen during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: An oil storage tank and crude oil pipeline equipment is seen during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo
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Oil Prices Fall for Fourth Straight Day as US Rate Hike Prospects Emerge

FILE PHOTO: An oil storage tank and crude oil pipeline equipment is seen during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: An oil storage tank and crude oil pipeline equipment is seen during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo

Oil prices eased for a fourth straight session on Thursday after the minutes of a US Federal Reserve meeting revealed discussions of a further tightening of interest rates if inflation remained sticky, a move that could hurt oil demand.
Brent crude futures fell 20 cents, or 0.2%, to $81.70 a barrel at 0651 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) futures were down 29 cents, or 0.4%, at $77.28. Both benchmarks fell more than 1% on Wednesday, Reuters said.
Minutes released on Wednesday from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting showed the US central bank's response to sticky inflation would "involve maintaining" its policy rate for now but also reflected discussion of possible further hikes.
"Various participants mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further should risks to inflation materialize in a way that such an action became appropriate," minutes of the Fed's meeting said.
Higher interest rates boost borrowing costs, crunching funds that could boost economic growth and oil demand in the world's largest oil consuming nation.
Also weighing on the market, US crude stocks rose by 1.8 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration, compared with an estimate for a 2.5 million-barrel draw.
Globally, physical crude markets have more recently been pressured by soft refinery demand and ample supply.
"Recent market softness has come on the back of weaker data, including rising oil inventories, tepid demand, and refinery margin weakness and the increasing risk of run cuts," Citi analysts said in a note on Thursday.
Russia said it exceeded its OPEC+ production quota in April for "technical reasons" and will soon present to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretariat its plan to compensate for the error, the Russian Energy Ministry said late on Wednesday.
Citi said it still expects that OPEC+, which groups together OPEC and allies led by Russia, will hold its production cuts through the third quarter of this year when it meets on June 1.
Citi also said it continues to see Brent averaging $86 a barrel in the second quarter of 2024.


Gold Prices Dip on Hawkish Fed Minutes

A participant shows gold bars during the 21st edition of the international gold and jewelry exhibition at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds in Kuwait City on May 23, 2024. (Photo by Yasser AL ZAYYAT / AFP)
A participant shows gold bars during the 21st edition of the international gold and jewelry exhibition at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds in Kuwait City on May 23, 2024. (Photo by Yasser AL ZAYYAT / AFP)
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Gold Prices Dip on Hawkish Fed Minutes

A participant shows gold bars during the 21st edition of the international gold and jewelry exhibition at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds in Kuwait City on May 23, 2024. (Photo by Yasser AL ZAYYAT / AFP)
A participant shows gold bars during the 21st edition of the international gold and jewelry exhibition at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds in Kuwait City on May 23, 2024. (Photo by Yasser AL ZAYYAT / AFP)

Gold prices fell for a third straight session on Thursday after minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting indicated that some officials were inclined to raise interest rates.
Spot gold fell 0.6% at $2,365.49 per ounce, as of 0638 GMT. Bullion hit a record high of $2,449.89 on Monday, Reuters reported.
U.S. gold futures were down 1.1% at $2,367.60.
While the policy response for now would "involve maintaining" the US central bank's benchmark policy rate at its current level, the minutes released on Wednesday also reflected discussions of possible further hikes.
"Gold did take a bruising after the Fed minutes reminded investors that interest rate cuts are far from imminent," said Tim Waterer, chief market analyst at KCM Trade.
Bullion is known as an inflation hedge, but higher rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.
"There is a chance gold could drift back to support levels around the $2,355 region if the dollar keeps the upward momentum going," Waterer said, adding that the medium to longer-term outlook still looks constructive for gold, but that is very much predicated on the next rate move being lower and not higher from the Fed.
Traders' bets signaled growing doubts that the Fed will cut rates more than once in 2024, currently pricing in a 72% chance of a rate cut by November.
India's gold imports in 2024 could fall by nearly a fifth from the previous year as record high prices spur retail consumers to exchange old jewelry for new items, the head of an industry body told Reuters.
"While physical gold demand has been holding up well since 2021, a sharp price rise is likely to temper discretionary buying in 2024. For jewelry demand, fewer days deemed in Indian and China to be auspicious for weddings could be a headwind," ANZ said in a note.
Spot silver fell 0.9% to $30.48, platinum lost 0.6% to $1,028.55 and palladium dropped 1.1% to $988.62.


Saudi Arabia Hosts Int’l Conference to Improve Traveler Experience

Group photo of officials during the Airports Council International Conference (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Group photo of officials during the Airports Council International Conference (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Hosts Int’l Conference to Improve Traveler Experience

Group photo of officials during the Airports Council International Conference (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Group photo of officials during the Airports Council International Conference (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Officials and investors in the airport industry developed innovative strategies to facilitate the traveler’s experience, during the Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific & Middle East / ACI World Annual General Assembly, Conference and Exhibition (WAGA 2024), which kicked off in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The three-day event, hosted by Riyadh Airports, features the participation of aviation leaders, airport CEOs, and over 800 specialists from across the globe. This is the first time WAGA is being held in the Middle East, underscoring Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in airport management and aviation.

The head of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, said on the occasion that Saudi Arabia is anticipating the future of aviation through its endeavor to host major events related to the industry, and is implementing a clear vision to lead the Middle East region at the level of logistical services.

He added that the Airports Council International conference represents a tremendous opportunity for the system in Saudi Arabia, by providing a basic foundation for benefiting from industry leaders and keeping pace with the latest developments in the field of aviation locally and globally.

For his part, the CEO of Riyadh Airports, Ayman Abo Abah, announced that his company is working with the relevant authorities to promote the reliance on clean energy sources, pointing in this context to progress achieved at King Khalid International Airport.

Riyadh Airports was established in 2016 as part of the sector privatization program. The company manages and operates King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, and seeks to develop the airport’s infrastructure and conduct expansion projects for new services and facilities.

Abo Abah explained that King Khalid International Airport has received the global accreditation certificate for managing carbon emissions for airports (level three) from the Airport Carbon Emissions Management Accreditation Program (ACA), making it the first airport in the Kingdom and the Middle East to obtain this certificate.

This confirms the implementation of the necessary standards and practices to reduce emissions and launch green initiatives that support this trend, he underlined.

Riyadh Airports’ hosting of WAGA 2024 coincides with the third edition of the Future Aviation Forum (FAF 2024), organized by GACA.

Wednesday’s sessions addressed the current state of the industry and the system’s future trends, emphasizing the importance of taking into account environmental sustainability and working to remove carbon in new, innovative ways.


IMF: Lebanon's Reforms Insufficient for Recovery

Lebanese policeman stand outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Lebanese policeman stand outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
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IMF: Lebanon's Reforms Insufficient for Recovery

Lebanese policeman stand outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Lebanese policeman stand outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon's economic reforms are insufficient to help lift the country out of its economic crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday.

Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, the head of the IMF mission visiting Lebanon, said in a statement that Lebanon's ongoing refugee crisis, fighting with Israel at its Southern border and the spillover from the war in Gaza are exacerbating an already dire economic situation.

Israeli forces and Lebanon's Hezbollah have traded fire across Lebanon's southern border since the war in Gaza broke out in October last year.

The conflict "has internally displaced a significant number of people and caused damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and trade in southern Lebanon. Together with a decline in tourism, the high risks associated with the conflict create significant uncertainty to the economic outlook," Rigo said, Reuters reported.
Fiscal and monetary reforms carried out by Lebanon's finance ministry and the central bank, including steps to unify multiple exchange rates for the Lebanese pound and contain a currency slump, have helped reduce inflationary pressure, according to Rigo.

However, he said more needs to be done if Lebanon is to alleviate its financial crisis.

"These policy measures fall short of what is needed to enable a recovery from the crisis. Bank deposits remain frozen, and the banking sector is unable to provide credit to the economy, as the government and parliament have been unable to find a solution to the banking crisis," he added.

"Addressing the banks' losses while protecting depositors to the maximum extent possible and limiting recourse to scarce public resources in a credible and financially viable manner is indispensable to lay the foundation for economic recovery."

Since Lebanon's economy began to unravel in 2019, its currency has lost around 95% of its value, banks have locked most depositors out of their savings and more than 80% of the population has sunk below the poverty line.

The crisis erupted after decades of profligate spending and corruption among the ruling elite, some of whom led banks that lent heavily to the state.

The government estimates losses in the financial system total more than $70 billion, the majority of which were accrued at the central bank.

 

 

 

 

 


Saudi Industry Minister Discusses Mining Cooperation with Jordanian Companies

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef holding talks in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi - SPA
Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef holding talks in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi - SPA
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Saudi Industry Minister Discusses Mining Cooperation with Jordanian Companies

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef holding talks in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi - SPA
Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef holding talks in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi - SPA

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef met in Jordan with Arab Mining Company chairman of the board Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi to discuss ways of enhancing cooperation in the mining sector.
Alkhorayef and Al-Shehhi explored opportunities to leverage the mining resources available in both Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Eng. Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer, the vice minister of mining affairs, also attended the meeting, according to SPA.
During his official visit to Jordan, Alkhorayef also held meetings with officials from Jordanian companies operating in the mining sector.
In his discussions with officials from Jordan Phosphate Mines Company, they explored avenues of cooperation in phosphate extraction and production in light of Saudi Arabia's substantial phosphate reserves.
Additionally, the minister discussed cooperation with officials from the Arab Potash Company, reviewing the progress made in implementing the memorandum of understanding signed between the company and the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden). The deal aims to enhance collaboration in specialized fertilizers and products in both countries.
Alkhorayef’s visit to Jordan reflects the Kingdom's commitment to strengthen Saudi-Jordanian economic cooperation, particularly in the industrial and mining fields, exchange expertise, attract investments, and create jobs. These efforts aim to deepen the economic integration between Saudi Arabia and Jordan on multiple levels.


King Abdulaziz International Airport Achieves Top Places in 2023 ACI Rankings

King Abdulaziz International Airport gets crowned as one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East - SPA
King Abdulaziz International Airport gets crowned as one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East - SPA
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King Abdulaziz International Airport Achieves Top Places in 2023 ACI Rankings

King Abdulaziz International Airport gets crowned as one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East - SPA
King Abdulaziz International Airport gets crowned as one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East - SPA

King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) was crowned one of the most advanced airports in air connectivity in the Middle East by the Airports Council International (ACI).
During ACI's annual General Assembly Conference and Exhibition in Riyadh, KAIA placed third as the best airport in the field of air connectivity in the Middle East for 2023, SPA reported.
These results are an extension of the ongoing efforts of the Jeddah Airports Company, which manages and operates KAIA in using the latest technology, developing the infrastructure of the Kingdom's founder’s airport, upgrading the quality of services, and expanding the network of local and international air destinations to more than 125.
As part of its endeavor to achieve the national strategic objectives of civil aviation emanating from the Saudi Vision 2030, the Jeddah Airports Company continues to strengthen the position of KAIA as a global hub airport, and to provide a unique travel experience for all travelers, including tourists and visitors to the Grand Mosque of Makkah from around the world, with the airport achieving a record growth in operations of over 36%.

The airport also aims to increase the number of destinations to 135 by the end of 2024, achieving a growth of 6% compared to 2023.
Jeddah Airports Company CEO Eng. Mazen Johar unveiled the company's intention to upgrade the level of services to realize the goals of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to increase operational efficiency and raise the capacity of KAIA to reach 114 million passengers by 2030.


Saudi EXIM Bank Signs Two Cooperation Agreements with Japan's SMBC, MUFG Banks

Two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank. - SPA
Two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank. - SPA
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Saudi EXIM Bank Signs Two Cooperation Agreements with Japan's SMBC, MUFG Banks

Two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank. - SPA
Two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank. - SPA

Saudi EXIM Bank signed two cooperation agreements with SMBC Business Banking and MUFG Bank, fostering cooperation and creating co-financing opportunities to promote non-oil exports in target markets, the Saudi EXIM Bank revealed in statement. This came on the sidelines of the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum in Tokyo.

According to the statement, the two agreements were signed separately by Eng. Saad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khalab, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, along with Mr. Akihiro Fukudom, CEO of SMBC Bank and Hironori Kamizawa, CEO of MUFG Bank.
Commenting on the partnerships, Eng. Saad Al-Khalab stated: "This collaboration with Japanese entities is part of our joint efforts to strengthen economic relations between both countries and achieve the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030. The acceleration of commercial projects between our nations toward broader horizons comes as a result of the strength, advanced economic status, and promising investment opportunities."
During the roundtable meeting, which brought together several ministers from both sides, Eng. Saad Al-Khalab reviewed Saudi EXIM Bank's activities with Japanese financial institutions and commercial companies to enhance economic and trade relations and identify projects of mutual interest, SPA reported.
During the financial sector's roundtable meeting, Al-Khalab emphasized the critical importance of collaborative efforts between all financial institutions and business sectors. This is to ensure the provision of comprehensive, incentivizing credit solutions that can accelerate the pace of trade and mutual and global investment activities.
The Saudi EXIM Bank aims to empower the Kingdom's non-oil national economy in accordance with Vision 2030. The bank is focused on enabling Saudi non-oil exports to expand and penetrate global markets by bridging financing gaps and reducing export risks.


Saudi Arabia, Spain Discuss Ways of Boosting Cooperation in Air Transportation

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA
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Saudi Arabia, Spain Discuss Ways of Boosting Cooperation in Air Transportation

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA

The Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics, Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, met with the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility of the Kingdom of Spain, Oscar Puente, on the sidelines of the International Transport Forum.

During the meeting, they discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the fields of air transportation, the Haramain High Speed Railway, and modern technologies in the transportation and logistics sector

 

 


S&P: SoftBank Group Upgraded to 'BB+'

The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
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S&P: SoftBank Group Upgraded to 'BB+'

The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Credit ratings agency S&P said SoftBank Group was upgraded to 'BB+' and subordinated debt to 'B+' on improvement in asset Quality. According to the agency, the outlook is stable for the next one to two years.

SoftBank Group is likely to continue to stabilize its investment income and improve the quality of its investment portfolio to a greater degree than we had forecast, S&P said.

"We expect the company to maintain investment portfolio quality and steady key financial metrics at around their current range over the next one to two years by managing with a degree of discipline, even as it increases risky new growth investments."

S&P also raised the long-term issuer credit rating on Softbank Group to 'BB+' from 'BB'. It also raised to 'B+' from 'B' their rating on the company's subordinated debt.

"The outlook is stable, reflecting our expectation that the company can maintain a relatively stable financial position over the next year or so."


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.