UK firms plan lower price rises in next 12 months: BoE survey

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By David Milliken

LONDON, June 1 (Reuters) – British businesses expect to raise both output prices and wages at a slower pace over the coming year than they did a month ago, according to a Bank of England survey released on Thursday which may ease policymakers’ fears that high inflation will persist.

Companies surveyed in May intended to raise prices by 5.1% over the coming year, down from 5.9% in April’s survey, the lowest since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and well below the rise of 7.6% recorded over the past 12 months.

Businesses planned to raise wages by 5.2% over the coming year, down from expectations of 5.4% in April and the lowest since July 2022.

BoE policymaker Catherine Mann said on Wednesday that Britain had a worse inflation problem than the United States or the euro zone, amid signs that high headline inflation may have created a persistent upward shift in underlying price- and wage-setting patterns.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses surveyed by the BoE typically reported plans to raise prices and wages by around 2-3% a year, close to the BoE’s 2% inflation target.

The BoE has said it will raise interest rates above their current 4.5% level if inflation looks persistent, and since the release of higher-than-expected April inflation data last week, markets have bet that rates will peak at 5.5% later this year.

The BoE’s Decision Maker Panel survey of 2,348 businesses took place between May 5 and May 19, before the latest inflation numbers which showed annual consumer price inflation dropped to 8.7% from 10.1%.

Businesses expected CPI to be 5.9% in a year’s time, up from 5.6% in April’s survey, and for inflation in three years’ time to be 3.5%.

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