Inflation expected to stay at minus 0.1% for October


Inflation is expected to remain at minus 0.1% again when official figures for October are published this week.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation has hovered between 0.1% and minus 0.1% for the last eight months, and apart from September last strayed into negative territory in April.

The latest inflation figures are due on Tuesday from the Office for National Statistics, and for some months have been depressed by falls in the prices of food and petrol.

Most economists expect low fuel prices and the ongoing supermarket price war will keep inflation in negative territory.

But some economists argue that prices might have stabilised in October, which may lift inflation back to zero.

Low inflation eases pressure on the Bank of England to increase interest rates as it seeks to keep CPI from heading above its 2% target.

Earlier this month the Bank left interest rates unchanged at 0.5%, but slightly lowered its outlook for UK economic growth this year to 2.7%, from the previous figure of 2.8%.

The Bank's latest forecast signalled a hike in the cost of borrowing may not come for a year despite Governor Mark Carney previously saying the decision would come into ''sharper relief'' by now.

Deputy Governor Nemat Shafik said: "A gently-rising path for interest rates would result in the economy moving towards full capacity and inflation coming back to target within a couple of years."

He added: "The UK economy is still doing quite well: we are growing above trend; real household incomes are growing faster than at any time since the crisis; consumer confidence is strong and investment intentions are robust. But the outlook for the rest of the world is more sombre."

The Bank said a slowdown in other emerging markets, such as Latin America, had been ''acute''.

The comments follow recent warnings from the International Monetary Fund that risks of a global financial crash had increased as the slowdown in China and potential US rate rise next month threatens the stability of debt-laden emerging economies.

In Britain CPI has been held back this year thanks to low oil and commodities prices, and by the strength of the pound, which makes imported goods cheaper.

Oxford Economics lead economist Martin Beck said: "We think CPI inflation is likely to have run at a similar negative rate in October. Price growth is continuing to be depressed by the strong pound and cheaper imports."

He added that the effect of the tripling of university tuition fees, which came into effect in 2012, will finally drop out of the annual comparison in October, and could take as much as 0.2% off annual inflation.

But chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight Howard Archer said he expected the data on Tuesday to show that consumer prices in October were flat year-on-year, rather than falling.

Mr Archer said: "The UK may well have crept out of mild deflation in October primarily due to a reduced year-on-year fall in petrol and diesel prices."

He added: "Consumer price inflation could well start inching up year-on-year from November."