18 Jan '11, 6pm

Soaring British inflation sparks fresh rate-hike talk

LONDON: British inflation soared to an eight-month high in December, official data showed on Tuesday, sparking fresh speculation that the Bank of England could soon be forced to start hiking interest rates. Annual inflation spiked to 3.7 percent last month, up from 3.3 percent in November, driven by higher air fares and rising fuel and food prices, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement. Inflation remains stubbornly higher than the British central bank's target of 2.0 percent. Expectations had been for a smaller gain to 3.4 percent in December. "The markets are now braced for a summer increase in interest rates as it is unlikely that the Bank of England will be able to sit idly by as public inflation expectations creep steadily higher," said Chris Redfern, a dealer at currency specialists MoneyCorp. Despite fears over rising inflationary pressures, th...

Full article: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world_business...

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